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Do you think making chicken or turkey pie is a long, arduous process? Think again. A few simple steps are all that stand between you and a family-sized pan of luscious poultry and vegetables in cream sauce, topped with tender biscuits. And, don't think that the word "pie" automatically means getting out the rolling pin. In this case, you're making a biscuit topping, which can simply be patted into a rectangle before cutting. (Feel free to smooth it out with your trusty rolling pin, though, if you just can't resist!)
3 pounds boneless chicken thighs (or about 6 cups leftover cooked chicken or turkey)
1 teaspoon salt
1 quart (32 ounces) water
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter
6 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups (20 ounces) chicken broth (canned is fine, or make your own)
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups (10 to 12 ounces) milk or half and half; use the lesser amount for a thicker sauce
1 1/2 cups (8 ounces, half a 1-pound bag) frozen peas and carrots, thawed
1 1/2 cups (8 ounces, half a 1-pound bag) frozen small white onions, thawed
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons dry sherry (optional)
4 cups (17 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
4 teaspoons Maine Bakewell Cream®*
2 teaspoons baking soda*
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) unsalted butter
1 1/3 to 1 1/2 cups (10 3/8 to 12 ounces) cold milk or half and half
*Or substitute 4 teaspoons baking powder, omitting the baking soda.
To prepare the chicken: Place the chicken thighs and salt in a deep saucepan. Add the water; it should cover the chicken (if it doesn't, add more). Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and cover. Simmer the chicken for 10 minutes, then turn the heat off (leave the cover on), and let it rest for 35 minutes, until it's cooked through. This gentle method of cooking the chicken will keep it nice and moist. Remove the chicken from the pot, and spread it on a platter to cool.
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Lightly grease a 2- to 3-quart casserole dish, 9" x 13" baking pan, or equivalent.
Filling: Heat the butter over medium heat till it's melted. Add the flour and salt, and stir to combine. Gradually pour in the 2 1/2 cups broth, whisking constantly. Cook and stir the sauce over medium heat till it comes to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer it for 5 minutes.
While the sauce is simmering, remove the skin (if any) from the chicken, and tear it into 1-inch pieces. When the sauce is ready, add 1 1/4 cups of the milk or half and half, the chicken, vegetables, salt, pepper, thyme, and sherry. Stir to combine. Understanding that the sauce will thicken a bit as the pie cooks, add additional milk or cream, if desired, till it's the thickness you like. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then spoon the filling into the prepared dish. Place the dish in the oven, and let it cook as you prepare the biscuits.
To prepare the biscuits: In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, Bakewell Cream, baking soda, and salt. Work the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is crumbly, using a pastry fork or pastry blender, your fingers, or a mixer. Add 1 1/3 cups of the milk all at once, stirring quickly to make a cohesive dough; if the dough seems too dry, add the remaining milk. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured work surface, and knead it 5 or 6 times to smooth it out. Roll and pat the dough about 3/4" thick. Cut it into about 10 circles, squares, or whatever shape you like; our hexagon cutter makes short work of this task.
Remove the pan from the oven, and place the biscuits atop the chicken and vegetables, gently pressing them down a bit. Bake the pie for 15 to 18 minutes, until the biscuits are golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Check to make sure the biscuits are done inside. If they're not (or if the filling doesn't seem hot enough), tent the pan with aluminum foil, and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, till the biscuits are cooked through, and the filling is hot. Remove the pie from the oven, and allow it to cool for 10 minutes before serving. Yield: 8 to 10 servings.