3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, plus some additional for rolling
1 tbsp, plus 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 scant tbsp honey
2 1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups 1/2-inch thick peeled carrot rounds
2 cups peeled yellow onions, halved and sliced
1 bulb fennel, outer layers removed, halved and sliced into 1/2-inch thick rounds
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp paprika
1 cup dry (cheap) white wine
1 1/2 cups medium white button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 cup celery stalks, sliced into 1/2-inch thick rounds
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, seared and cubed
3 cups vegetable stock
1 large egg, lightly beaten, for egg wash
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, for topping
Gather 6 (8-oz) ramekins. Make the biscuit topping first. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, black pepper, and salt. Sifting not only assures that the dry ingredients will be free of lumps, but also mixes them together. Add the honey and cream to the dry ingredients. Here’s where it gets messy; use your hands to mix together the wet and dry ingredients. Take care there is not remaining flour in the bottom of the bowl. Turn the biscuit mixture onto a lightly floured flat surface and with floured hands, pat the biscuit mix down until it is about 1-inch thick.
Note: if the outside edges start to show cracks, cup the outer edge with your hands and push the dough towards its own center. Pat the edges so the dough is about 1-inch thick. Lightly flour a knife (to avoid sticking as you cut) and cut the dough into six 6-inch (in diameter) rounds. The dough should be a few inches larger in diameter relative to the baking dishes. Transfer the rounds to a baking sheet and refrigerate while making the filling.
Preheat the oven to 375° F.
Heat a large skillet and add the olive oil. When it begins to smoke lightly, add the carrots, onions, fennel, flour and paprika. Season with salt, and stir to blend. Add the white wine and cook until all of the liquid has reduced and the vegetables are translucent and tender, 5-8 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms, celery, chicken and stock. Cook an additional 5-8 minutes over medium heat to allow the liquid some time to reduce. Season with salt to taste.
Fill each ramekin 3/4 with the vegetables and liquid. Don’t fill all the way to the top. You need to leave a little room so that steam can build up inside the pie as it bakes and allow the biscuit to cook. Spooning some liquid into each is important so they have enough moisture within to create steam and be juicy once cooked. Allow them to “rest” 15 minutes so the vegetables cool slightly.
Brush the outside edges of the ramekins with egg wash and fully brush the biscuit rounds. Top each ramekin with the “egged” side of the biscuit and gently press it to all sides so it seals the ramekin shut. Place them all somewhat apart on a baking sheet and place it in the center of the oven. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour or until the biscuit dough is puffed and browned. Remove from the oven and top with Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.
Recipe courtesy of Alex Guamaschelli