Tumultuous Tuesdays

September 12th, 2012 · 21 Comments · Chicken and Turkey, Dinner, Organizing, Strategizing, Planning

If you opened my refrigerator on a Tuesday afternoon, there’s a good chance you’d find my green Dansk pot sitting on the bottom shelf filled with dinner. I try to limit any scheduled work events that day because the way after-school activities have shaken down for the past year, is that from 2:45 until almost 7:30, the house is pulled in 40 different directions. So much so that we’ve taken to calling it “Tumultuous Tuesdays.” I’ve come to believe that complicated family activity logistics are the very definition of First World Pain (and sort of resemble dreams – they’re boring to everyone except the people directly involved in them) so I won’t say more than this: Boy do I appreciate a meal ready-to-go when we all walk in the door. I’ve called the dinner table many things in my career as a blogger (“magic guilt eraser”, “7:00 magnetic north,” “a god@#m% freaking warzone”) but on these kinds of nights there’s one word that’s top of brain: recalibration. It goes against reason (and sanity) that on the busiest days, during the busiest times of the year, I crave a sit-down session with the family the most.

That’s why the pot is in the fridge. At some point during the day, I try to carve out a half hour from my 8:00 to 2:30 workday to get dinner ready. It can be a pot of turkey chili. Or a quick bolognese. Or this chicken stew.  Anything that looks good in my green Dansk which fits neatly on the bottom shelf of my refrigerator. (Skillet meals need not apply.) If I were more organized, or someone without the flexibility to cook dinner during lunchtime, I might put it together on the weekend and freeze in a flat bag. (And, yes, Slow-Cooker Evangelists, I think you know what to get me for my birthday.) But there’s something extremely satisfying about walking in the door, opening the fridge, transferring the pot to the burner and serving up dinner 10 minutes later. Almost as though I’ve convinced myself that no way, dude, my children are not over-scheduled. I have it all under control. Recalibration? Self-Delusion? All I know is that next Tuesday feels like a lifetime away.

Chicken Stew and Biscuits
This recipe is based on my normal chicken pot pie filling, but for this version, I prefer it stewier so there’s plenty of juice to sop up with the biscuits. When you don’t have leftover cooked chicken on hand, poach 2 chicken breasts in simmering salted water for 15 minutes, while the vegetables are simmering the other pot.

storebought buttermilk biscuits (we like Trader Joe’s frozen)
1 to 1 1 /2 cups chicken broth (cookbook owners, I had some homemade stock, page 289 in the freezer which elevated this to pretty insane levels of deliciousness.)
2 red or Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
handful chopped carrots
1/2 medium onion, chopped
leaves from 1 sprig of thyme
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup milk whisked with 2 tablespoons flour
1 cup cooked chicken (shredded or cubed; storebought rotisserie is ideal)
handful of asparagus or peas or green beans or all three
Parmesan to taste (I add about 1/4 cup; sharp cheddar or Jack would be good, too)

If you are baking biscuits, preheat oven and follow package instructions. Bring broth to a boil in a medium-size pot like the one shown above. Add the potatoes, carrots, onions, thyme, and bay leaf, and simmer the mixture for 15 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Drizzle the milk-flour mixture slowly into the vegetables and simmer, stirring until it is slightly thickened. (Or to taste. Remember: you want some sopping liquid for the biscuits.) Remove the pan from heat, stir in chicken and asparagus and cheese. (If making this ahead of time, allow to cool, cover, and place in fridge*. When ready to serve, reheat uncovered over low heat.) Place a biscuit on each plate and top with stew as shown.

*Note: I’m sure there’s some rule for how long you’re allowed to keep a pot in the refrigerator before its contents start to take on a metallic taste. I’ve never done it for more than a 6 to 8 hour stretch, though, and it’s worked out just fine.

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21 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Karen R // Sep 12, 2012 at 8:00 am

    love this! We recently signed on for Tumultuous Tuesdays when we moved our gymnastics day. Last night ended up being frozen TJ’s pizza, but only because I wasn’t properly prepared. I love the idea of a pot of deliciousness waiting for us on our crazy days.

  • 2 Sarah // Sep 12, 2012 at 8:33 am

    I don’t even have any kiddos and certain weekdays seem crazy. Love the idea of having something ready and waiting, to warm up as we cool down from the day. Can’t wait to make this as the days get colder!

  • 3 Stephanie // Sep 12, 2012 at 8:53 am

    From one soccer mom to another…THANK YOU! Our crazy day is Thursday, so I know what I’ll be prepping for tomorrow night. AND everyone loves chicken pot pie, so this fits the bill perfectly.

  • 4 Sarah // Sep 12, 2012 at 9:48 am

    Love this recipe – I make something similar, and to make life even easier I cook the biscuits in a layer directly on top of the stew according to biscuit directions. This could work for hot or cold stew, though for cold you would probably want to go a bit longer in the oven. Then we scoop biscuit sized rounds of everything into bowls… mmmmm :)

  • 5 Essie // Sep 12, 2012 at 10:17 am

    Our crazy days are M, T, W, and Th b/c I work till 8-5 and so I cook tomorrow’s dinner every night after the kids go to bed. Time-wise, it saves us. But I do crave a meal that doesn’t have to be reheated.

  • 6 Kerry-Ann // Sep 12, 2012 at 11:12 am

    Yesterday was our first crazy day of the school year and we had chicken pot pie too! Ours was from Harrows (Boston area) and it saved us! I’ll be prepping for Thursday. I like the idea of a pot of chili waiting for us when we get home from soccer! Thanks for the great ideas :)

  • 7 Courtney // Sep 12, 2012 at 11:55 am

    Love this! Nearly every weekend I make some type of recipe in my red pot. It sits on the bottom shelf of the fridge and I know I have one dinner ready to go as well as a few lunches to munch on during the week. I am not a calm person if that red pot is not filled. Part of the reason I love fall/winter so much is the endless stews/soups/chilis I can fill it with!

  • 8 Melissa@Julia's Bookbag // Sep 12, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    A pot in the fridge….you just blew my mind!!! Such a great idea that has never occurred to me ever in my life, and this Chicken Pie sounds so lovely :)

    I just really got officially super excited for Fall!!

  • 9 anna // Sep 12, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    oh man. i love chicken and biscuits. this is going on next week’s menu.

  • 10 Torrie @ a place to share... // Sep 12, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    perfect.

    “manic-monday” just might be a little less maniacal with this magical tip.

    {i love being in the ‘cookbook-owner club’ … it’s like a special hand-stamp :) }

  • 11 erinn johnson // Sep 12, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    Sadly in our house it is Tumultuous Monday through Sunday. With four very active kids there never seems to be a minute to spare. I like to make sure that they get a good, well balanced, cooked meal for dinner every night, so I feed them when they get home from school at 4:00, before all of their activities start. My husband makes fun of me for serving them dinner so early, but it is the only way to get a healthful meal into them where they can all sit down together. On the weekends we have a bit more flexibility, so we eat late and sit down with the six of us.

    This looks like a great meal. I will have to give it a try. The kids love biscuits and I make them from scratch all the time, so it has a chance a being a hit in our house.

  • 12 Rachel // Sep 12, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    My mom has the same pot (in red) purchased c.1978 and I covet it in a way that is a little scary. A couple of times a year I borrow it when I am making a double batch of chili or spaghetti sauce. (One of these days I may “forget” to return it.) Best pot ever – perfect size for a fridge and for getting a pre-made, homemade dinner done.

  • 13 ellen // Sep 12, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    i have left stews in le creuset pot in fridge for several days with no bad aftertaste. another huge fan of a pot in the fridge here. this week i had something in the fridge or freezer for every night’s dinner and it felt monumental!

  • 14 AKT // Sep 13, 2012 at 11:24 am

    I love this post, but I have a technical question! This is a problem I’m always facing when I try to make things in advance: If you have only thirty minutes to cook/prepare, isn’t the pot hot when you put it in the fridge? I worry about warming up the other things in my refrigerator when I put something warm in it. Do you? How long do you let it cool before you transfer it from stove to fridge? Would love your (or anyone’s) thoughts on this! Thanks!

  • 15 Emily // Sep 13, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    jenny, i am dying to make this!! but – apologies for outrageous question – any way to make this vegetarian? i know, i know. but i crave warm stews now that fall is approaching and my kids and i will eat pretty much anything that comes with a biscuit on top! i’m wondering what i can substitute for the chicken… extra veggies? tofu? beans? if anyone has a suggestion, i’d love that. thank you! ps: the cookbook is amazing. i’ve already given it to two people, and recommended it to a dozen others!

  • 16 jenny // Sep 13, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    AKT – I might have been exaggerating a bit there. It does take about 30 minutes to make (less even) but you do have to let it cool off the burner. I don’t put it in fridge or even cover it with a lid unless it’s cool. Unless I’m really pressed for time, then I just screw it and risk melting the cream cheese next to it.

    Emily – Of COURSE you can make this vegetarian. Just omit the chicken (obv) and replace the chicken broth with veg broth. I’d just load it up with more vegetables instead of tofu. Maybe beans, asparagus, green beans, parsnips, butternut squash cubes, shaved brussels, spinach, mushrooms!! You can’t really get it wrong.

    Keep me posted!

  • 17 Sam D // Sep 13, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    Yummy, I am ready for dinner! I like the idea and it looks simple to make, which is better. Thanks for sharing!

  • 18 DeeDee V. // Sep 13, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    our day is (wacky)Wednesday. this is going in the ideas file for sure… i know it’s going to be a hit with the littles and the bigs!

  • 19 Stephanie // Sep 16, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    Our Thursday ended up crazier than EVER and I’m not even sure WHAT we ate, but this is on the stove for our Sunday supper and it smells divine…I doubled it (sort of – I’m the queen of winging it!) so we would have leftovers for lunch tomorrow…can’t wait to dig in!

  • 20 inthefastlane // Sep 17, 2012 at 11:21 am

    These days seem like every day for us.
    I am trying this recipe in the crock pot, because for me, I like having it already done and hot when everyone finally walks in the door. I am going to grab some pre-made bisquits too, while I am out and about shuttling kids this evening.

  • 21 Emily // Sep 20, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    just to follow up… i made this yesterday in a vegetarian version with jenny’s suggestion to swap out the chicken broth for veg – and i just used an extra cup of potatoes, carrots and peas instead of the chicken. it was AWESOME. warming, tasty, the perfect fall stew. (kid report: 9 year old finished her entire plate [!!], 6 year old pushed it away and ate a plain biscuit with honey, and a couple baby carrots. oh well; win some, lose some… you guys know how it is.)

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