Tag: biscuits

Chicken pot pie using an Instant Pot

Chicken pot pie using an Instant Pot

Chicken pot pie is an absolutely delicious comfort food for these cold winter days. Our version makes meaty chicken pies using the meat of a whole chicken and makes the stock for the stew base out of the carcass. It’s not a lot of work, but with the time it takes to cook the chicken and make the stock, the elapsed time is probably an hour a half. However, there is very little actual labor. In this version, the crust for our pie is buttermilk biscuits, from this recipe.

  • One whole frying chicken, 3 ½ to 4 pounds
  • 5 cups water, or more
  • 3 carrots, peeled
  • 1 whole leek, split
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt, pepper
  • 4 Tb butter
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ½ cup light cream
  • 1 recipe buttermilk biscuits.
  1. Cut the chicken into serving sized pieces, pulling off as much of the skin as you can.
  2. Put the chicken pieces in the Instant Pot, on the trivet and add the water and salt.
  3. Cook in the Instant Pot, using the Poultry setting for 15 minutes, 20 it the chicken is really big.
  4. Use Natural Release to let the chicken and water cool so it doesn’t spurt when you release the pressure.
  5. Remove the legs, thighs and breasts and cut the meat off and reserve. Put the bones back in the pot.
  1. Add 2 carrots, the leek, the bay leaf and 1 stalk of celery.
  2. Close the pot and cook using manual for 30 minutes to make chicken stock.
  3. Meanwhile, make the biscuit dough and preheat the over to 375˚
  4. Cut the remaining carrots and celery into small slices and saute in 2 Tb of the butter in a covered saucepan for about 20 minutes. We usually add the carrots first, and the celery 5-10 minutes later.
  1. Open the pot after the 30 minute cooking. Since it isn’t as full now, you probably can use Quick Release. If it starts to spurt, just let it cool another 5 minutes and it will easier to open.
  2. Melt the remaining 2 Tb of butter in a large, say 4-quart pan, and add the flour. Cook the flour in the butter for 30 seconds, and then scoop out some chicken stock, a cup or so at a time and cook into the flour. You should be able to incorporate and thicken about 4 cups of stock.
  1. Add the sautéed carrots and celery to the developing. If the gravy seems too thin, you can cook a couple more Tb of flour in some butter in the now emptied saucepan and add some stock to it. Combine with the original gravy in the pot,
  2. Add the chicken to the pot, the cream, and the frozen peas.
  3. Cook until heated through and pour the chicken mixture into a casserole dish
  1. Top with about 10 biscuit rounds.
  2. Bake in the 375˚ for 15 minutes.
  3. Serve the casserole dish with a ladle to life out the biscuits and chicken. Serve with butter for the biscuits.

Note: Another approach is to put the chicken mixture into soup crocks. For a crust, roll out some puff pastry, and brush with a small of egg-water mixture. Bake for 15 minutes as above.

in ramekins

Either way, this serves at least 4 people. We put the other half of the chicken mixture in these soup crocks to freeze for another meal.

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Delicious southern buttermilk biscuits

Delicious southern buttermilk biscuits

Our recipe for biscuits is really very simple, with flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, unsalted butter and buttermilk. And it took a leap into high quality when we decided to fold and roll the biscuit dough, like you do when making croissants. Otherwise, it is much like hundreds of other recipes.

If you add salt, why do you use unsalted butter? Because unsalted butter has much less water in it than salted butter and works much better for pastry.

There have been a spate of articles in the past few months about why Northerners can’t make biscuits as good as Southerners do (and here we mean the Southern and Northern United States.)  See also “Why Most of America is Terrible at Making Biscuits.

flour-bleached-self-risingOne such article “Here’s why Southern Biscuits are Better” explains that southern cooks use a soft wheat flour like White Lily which has a much lower protein (and gluten) content, about 8-9 %, while an all purpose flour like King Arthur can be 11.7%. King Arthur All Purpose flour is close to bread flour which is 12.7%, while White Lily has the texture of cake flour, which is 6.9% to 7.1% for various brands.

 

 

Well, the authors of the two articles above point out that Southern biscuit makers use the low protein White Lily Flour, which is only available in the southern U.S., despite being distributed by Smuckers. You can, of course, buy it on line for a premium price and we did, to see what the difference really is.

[If you want to create a substitute for White Lily flour, you can mix ½ cake flour (7%) with ½ Gold Medal All Purpose (10.5%), which gives you a flour that is 8.75 % protein.]

Our Northern Recipe

We made our biscuits using our normal recipe:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Unsalted butter, 1/3 cup or 2/3 stick or 76 g
  • About 1 cup of buttermilk

In our recipe, we mix all the dry ingredients, and then cut in the butter using a pastry blender (or two forks).  Then, we add the buttermilk and mix it in with a fork and roll out the dough. We recently found that we had a pastry marble, which helps keep the butter cold, and we rolled out the dough on the marble. Then, and this is significant, we folded the dough into thirds and rolled it out again. We repeated that twice more, thus making more buttery layers within the biscuits. The resulting biscuits are excellent.

Southern Biscuits

White Lily Flour is commonly sold as Self-Rising, which means that every cup of flour has 1 ½ tsp baking powder and ½ tsp salt already added. White Lily is also bleached, which weakens the gluten a bit more, so this could also change the biscuit characteristics. (You can buy the non-leavened version as well.)

The recipes we looked at simply vary in the quantity of flour and shortenings. This one is pretty typical.

  • 2 ½ cups self-rising flour
  • 4 oz (1 stick) unsalted butter, frozen
  • 1 cup chilled buttermilk.

The one difference is that the butter is frozen and you shred it in a box grater or a food processor. We found that it took so much kinetic energy to shred the butter in the box grater, that the it began to soften, so we switched to the food processor instead.

foldedAs before, we mixed the butter in with the pastry blender and added the buttermilk. One cup is a bit stingy, and we added a bit more buttermilk to make a workable dough. We rolled out the dough as before, (on our pastry marble) and folded it into thirds and rolled it out 3 times as before. Some recipe writers claim that you should cut out the biscuits without twisting your biscuit cutter, so we did that too for both batches. This may be just an old custom without a lot of science behind it, though.

 

We baked both biscuits for 10 minutes at 450˚ F. The White Lily ones were a bit taller since there was more flour in the dough recipe and thus the dough was a bit thicker when rolled out on the marble. So we baked these Southern biscuits a bit longer until they began to brown.

both baked

How are the biscuits different?

The King Arthur biscuits are a little darker and the White Lily a little lighter, because the White Lily flour is bleached. But the taste and texture of the two are very similar. Since we had to cook the taller White Lily biscuits a bit longer, the bottoms were a bit thicker and crunchier than those from King Arthur flour. However, see below on this point.

both split

The crumb and texture of the two biscuits are very similar and both quite tasty. (See the picture at the top of the article, as well.) We just didn’t find much difference. The secret seems to be the layers of butter from folding and rolling, and both biscuits have that nice buttery flavor.

crisco butterWe also tried making the White Lily biscuits using the recipe on the flour package, which commenters on the existing recipes said worked perfectly. It differs only in that the butter is replaced by Crisco. The biscuits are very pretty,  but pretty tasteless. The recipe suggests that you brush the biscuits with melted butter as shown. It doesn’t improve them much.

2 cups white lilyTo reduce the number of biscuits to the number we could roll out, we made the recipe again using just 2 cups of White Lily flour and 2/3 stick of shredded frozen butter. These were very good, but, frankly, no better than the King Arthur flour recipe.

cold butterFinally, we made the White Lily biscuits using cold, but not frozen butter, much as we made the King Arthur biscuits. These biscuits were not as tall or “layery.” Apparently the lower gluten flour affects this layering and you need frozen butter to achieve this effect with White Lily.

Our conclusion is, if you live in the South where you can buy White Lily Flour for about $2.50 for 5 pounds, go for it. But in the rest of the country, use All Purpose Flour and unsalted butter, and you will be very happy with the results.

both with eggs

 

 

Flakey buttermilk biscuits

Flakey buttermilk biscuits

Buttermilk biscuits are great for breakfast (or dinner) and take very little time to make. In this recipe, we used unsalted butter, and devised a trick to make them even flakier. Just as in making croissants, we turn and fold the dough a couple of times to make more layers of butter. The result is biscuits made up of many layers, and with a terrific flavor. We use unsalted butter because it contains less water than salted butter, but you can use salted butter if that is all you have.

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Unsalted butter, 1/3 cup or 2/3 stick or 76 g
  • About 1 cup of buttermilk
  1. Set out one stick of butter from the refrigerator for a few minutes, while you gather your ingredients.
  2. Preheat the oven to 450° F.
  3. Mix the dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
  4. Cut the butter into small slices and drop into the flour.
  5. Cut the butter into the flour using a pastry blender or two forks.
  6. Add 1 cup of buttermilk, and more if most of the flour isn’t moistened.
  7. Pat the dough together on a cutting board and roll it out.
  1. Fold the dough into thirds and roll out into a rectangle.
  2. Again, fold the dough into thirds and roll it out.
  1. Cut the dough into biscuits using a biscuit cutter or a drinking glass, and place the biscuits on an ungreased cookie sheet.
  2. Bake the biscuits for 10 minutes, and serve right away.

baked