Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Comforty Comfort Food

After coming back from the amazing Foodbuzz festival (which I have yet to blog about, I know, bad blogger) and seeing all this gourmet and fantastically choreographed food presentation I wanted down-home country comfort food. Don't ask me why. This should prove my questionable foodie status: I ate all this fouffy, high-fashion food and all I could think when I came home is I could really go for some Cracker Barrel. I'm a bit of a disgrace, aren't I?

My best friend used to go to Cracker Barrel a lot growing up, and I often joined her and her family on said outings. Cracker Barrel is most certainly one of the least GF, perhaps allergy friendly, restaurants on the planet I'd imagine. There's flour, dough, and gravy at every turn and being someone who likes comfort food, I sopped it all up with a biscuit every time. When I think back to what I was actually ingesting, I get a little sick thinking of all the lard and chemicals I was throwing into my body. But I digress...

My favorite dish at Cracker Barrel was Chicken & Dumplings. You couldn't visually tell the chicken from the dumplings because it was all buried in some creamy gravy of some sort, but I loved that dish. And add a biscuit on the side and I was in heaven! I really wanted that dish when I returned home. I really wanted that dish and knew I couldn't have it. So how can I re-create this dish to be a comfort food for my restrictions? I'm glad I asked.

What I did was make a Chicken & Biscuits Casserole. It could also be a mock pot pie if you used a double crust (I suppose) but I enjoy making casseroles. This was generally easy to prepare and an EXCELLENT dish to create with leftover turkey after Thanksgiving, which I hear is coming up pretty soon. To make the biscuits, I used the GF Waffle & Pancake Mix from The Cravings Place which makes all sorts of GF, allergy free mixes. This particular mix was free of just about everything, except for corn (think of it as a last hurrah.) I did choose to use butter instead of shortening, which adds back dairy as well. If you're using this mix, I would also suggest adding seasoning or cheese perhaps, because although the mix holds up very well, it tends to taste a little doughy. If you want to make your own biscuit dough from scratch, go for it! Just make sure you start with at least 2 cups of dry mix in your recipe so you have enough to cover the whole dish. Ready for some fake country cookin' y'all?

Chicken & Biscuits Casserole

2 lbs boneless, skinless organic chicken thighs (or 2 lbs leftover poultry cooked)
1 cup 365 Garlic Chicken Broth divided (or Cream of ___ Soup, this soup had no soy so it won)
2 cups veggies, defrosted from frozen or fresh (I used organic peas, green beans)
1/2 large yellow onion, chopped or diced
2 cups Cravings Place All Purpose Waffe & Pancake Mix
1 cup water
6 tbsp butter or shortening
salt & pepper to taste
Herbes de Provence or Poultry Seasoning to taste
olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Brown chicken in large pan greased with olive oil over medium heat (if you're using leftover meat, obviously skip this step.)
Grease a 9x13 dish with olive oil and spread 1/2 cup broth on the bottom of the dish.
When chicken is browned, remove from pan and arrange on broth in dish.
Salt and Pepper chicken to taste (I used some awesome truffle salt I brought back from Italy)
In the same pan you were browning the chicken, saute veggies and onion until tender.
Add veggies over and around chicken.
Season to taste with Herbes de Provence or Poultry Seasoning, and another round of salt/pepper.
Pour 1/2 cup of broth over the mixture and cover with foil.

Cook mixture in the oven at 350 degrees covered for 25 minutes.

While that's cooking, prepare biscuit topping by combing the Cravings Place mix with water and butter.
Optional: Season biscuit batter with cheese (parmesan or cheddar), savory herbs, salt/pepper, and/or crushed garlic.

After 25 minutes, remove the chicken mixture from the oven.
Heat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Take biscuit batter and use your palms to form flat circles about the size of your palms.
Layer flat circles to cover the entire 9x13 dish of chicken mixture, edge to edge.

Place biscuit covered dish back in the oven uncovered for 20 minutes.
Shut oven off and let casserole sit in oven 10-15 minutes.

Remove, eat, and wonder why you ever missed gravy-slathered junk food from a truck stop diner.

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