Church Supper Chicken Pie

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From The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion.

This recipe could just as easily be titled Grange Supper Chicken Pie, or American Legion Supper Chicken Pie, or B.P.O.E., or Odd Fellows, the volunteer fire department, or any number of organizations that have regular “suppers,” fund-raising or just social. A good “church supper chicken pie” is one of the most comforting foods we know.

Ingredients
Chicken:
One 5-pound roasting chicken, or 5 pounds of chicken parts, including light and dark meat*
1 large onion (7 ounces) cut into chunks
2 large carrots (7 ounces) cut into chunks
5 sprigs fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
2 quarts (64 ounces) water

Sauce:
1/4 cup (2 ounces) chicken fat (reserved from poaching liquid below)
2 tablespoons (2 ounce) butter
1/2 cup (2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups (28 ounces) chicken stock (prepared from poaching liquid, below)

Biscuits:
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (3 1/4 ounces) shortening
1 large egg
2/3 cup (5 1/4 ounces) milk

Instructions
Filling:
1. Place the chicken, onion, carrots, parsley, thyme, bay leaf, and salt in a deep stock pot. Add the water. Bring to a boil, skim off the foam, reduce the heat to low, and cover. Simmer the chicken and vegetables for about 1 1/4 hours (for a whole chicken) or 45 minutes to 1 hour (for chicken parts), until chicken is cooked through.

2. Remove the chicken and vegetables, discardin the vegetables and spreading the chicken on a platter to cool. Simmer the stock until it’s reduced to 3 1/2 cups; this will take about 30 minutes. If after 30 minutes there’s more than 3 1/2 cups of stock remaining, simply measure out 3 1/2 cups and save or discard the rest. Alternatively, you can use 28 ounces of canned chicken broth.

Sauce:
1. When the yellow fat has risen to the top of the stock—this should take about 40 minutes—skim off, strain, and reserve 1/4 cup, discarding the rest. Place the fat in a saucepan with the butter, and heat over medium heat until butter has melted. Add the flour and salt (omit the salt if using canned broth) and stir to combine. Gradually pour in the stock, whisking contantly. Cook and stir the sauce over medium heat until it comes to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer it for 5 minutes.

2. While the sauce is simmering, remove the skin and bones from the chicken, discard, and tear the meat into 1-inch pieces. Stir the chicken into the sauce. Add ground black pepper and additional salt to taste, if needed.

3. Spoon the chicken into a shallow 2- to 3-quart casserole dish or 9 x 13-inch pan.

Biscuits:
1. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Using a pastry blender, your fingers, or an electric mixer, cut in the sortening until the mixture is crumbly. Whisk together the egg and milk and stir into the dry ingredients, mixing just until fully combined. The dough will be very wet and sticky.

2. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Using a spoon or cookie (or ice cream) scoop, drop the batter in golf ball–sized rounds onto the chicken, spacing them evenly and leaving a bit of room in between for expansion. Place the chicken and biscuits in the oven and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until the biscuits are golden brown. Remove from the oven and serve hot or warm.

*If you decide to use leftover cooked turkey or chicken, you’ll need 2 to 2 1/4 pounds of boneless, skinless meat, which is between 6 and 7 cups of meat.

Makes 8 to 12 servings.

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