Creating something great out of nothing

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Sometimes I'm just ahead of the latest culinary trend. OK, that may be an exaggeration, but there have been more than a handful of times when I've "invented" a recipe to find it appear on the cookery radar soon after.

Most recently was following another of my "look in the fridge and get creative with leftovers" forays. Our meat CSA from Bunker Farm gives us good occasion to eat roast chicken. To keep things interesting with the leftover meat, I often turn to one-pot dishes that are easy to prepare and pretty flexible with ingredients and flavors.

Craving something warm and cozy one of those cold evenings a couple of weeks ago, I concocted just the thing with a few veggies and leftover chicken meat. I wasn't sure what to call it, but a couple days later I found an article that described it perfectly: savory cobbler. Yes, that was exactly what it was — not quite chicken and biscuits, not quite pot pie, and yet full of the same warming comfort.

I see all kinds of possibilities for this concept, using whatever leftovers you happen to have and being a little creative with the flavorings. Here's the recipe of the other night, but you could also use beef with a bit of Worcestershire sauce, or try pork with apples and sage. Or maybe leftover vegetables with a curry gravy topped with potatoes. The possibilities are endless — just keep the filling/topping ratio pretty close to the same and you've got savory cobbler!

Savory cobbler

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons butter

½ medium sweet onion, chopped

6 to 7 mushrooms, sliced (I used baby portobellos)

1 stalk celery, chopped

½ teaspoon dried thyme

Pinch marjoram

salt and pepper to taste

1 ½ tablespoons flour

1 to 1 ½ cups water or stock

1 ½ to 2 cups cooked, picked over chicken, in bite-sized pieces

1 recipe biscuit dough (I use my grandmother's drop biscuit recipe)

Preheat oven to 425°. In a 12-inch cast iron skillet melt the butter. Add onion, mushrooms and celery and saute over medium/medium-high heat until onions are translucent and mushrooms have released their juices. Add herbs and seasonings to taste, then sprinkle the flour over all, stirring constantly until flour has absorbed liquids and begins to cook, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in a little of the stock until a smooth paste forms. Slowly whisk in more stock until sauce reaches the consistency of a thick gravy. Add chicken and stir well. Drop biscuit dough in small pinches to cover the gravy and chicken. Bake 15-20 minutes or until biscuits are beginning to brown.


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