The biscuits cook up great on top of the stew. They get a little crunchy on top, but stay bready underneath. I am usually left with some extra biscuit dough and I have found that they don't rise as well when you make them on a sheet pan. I think they need the moisture of the stew. Still, 10-yr old boys have been known to eat these stray biscuits with few complaints.
If you are adept at reducing recipes and/or experienced with pot pie, you can easily play around with this one. Here I halved the entire recipe to fill a 8x11 pan and got 6 portions (It reheats well.) I used two large split breast halves and left out the whole little onions she calls for. (There are already onions in it, so they are not missed.) I have also made this recipe in individual 6-ounce ramekins, a biscuit topping each serving. The Contessa suggests baking the stew for a short time before topping with the biscuits, but I just put them on right at the start. Also, this is a recipe where homemade stock will shine through with all its chickeny flavor and body. But it will still be very good with canned stock.
If biscuits aren't your thing, you could top this stew with pastry dough, homemade or store-bought, to make a traditional pot pie.
Chicken Stew with Biscuits (serves 12)
3 whole chicken breasts (6 split) bone in, skin on
3 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 cups chicken stock preferably homemade
2 chicken bouillon cubes
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks)
2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 cups medium-diced carrots (4 carrots) blanched for 2 minutes
1 package frozen peas (2 cups) (10 ounce)
1 1/2 cups frozen small whole onions
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
For the biscuits:
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 pound cold unsalted butter (1 stick) diced
3/4 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water for egg wash
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan and rub them with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, or until cooked through. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then remove the meat from the bones and discard the skin. Cut the chicken into large dice. You will have 4 to 6 cups of cubed chicken.
In a small saucepan, heat the chicken stock and dissolve the bouillon cubes in the stock.
In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the onions over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until translucent. Add the flour and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the hot chicken stock to the sauce. Simmer over low heat for 1 more minute, stirring, until thick. Add 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and the heavy cream. Add the cubed chicken, carrots, peas, onions, and parsley.
Mix well. Place the stew in a 10 x 13 x 2-inch oval or rectangular baking dish. Place the baking dish on a sheet pan lined with parchment or wax paper. Bake for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the biscuits. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is the size of peas. Add the half-and-half and combine on low speed. Mix in the parsley. Dump the dough out on a well-floured board and, with a rolling pin, roll out to 3/8-inch thick. Cut out twelve circles with a 2 1/2-inch round cutter. Remove the stew from the oven and arrange the biscuits on top of the filling. Brush them with egg wash, and return the dish to the oven. Bake for another 20 to 30 minutes, until the biscuits are brown and the stew is bubbly.
Note: To make in advance, refrigerate the chicken stew and biscuits separately. Bake the stew for 25 minutes, then place the biscuits on top, and bake for another 30 minutes, until done.
Reheat leftovers in a low oven until hot.