Wednesday, February 20, 2013


That is what I made for dinner last night.  It is a childhood favorite, evoking memories of Sunday dinner with my maternal grandparents.

Confused yet, Dear Reader?

When I was little, in the 1970's, my parents, brother and I lived within about twenty miles of both sets of my grandparents.  We saw each set weekly, usually on the weekend, and Sunday dinner was almost always with my maternal grandparents.  Most of the time, we ate at their house, with my grandpa doing the cooking.  I know my grandma did cook, but honestly I don't have any memories of her cooking.  Maybe because her specialty was cabbage rolls, and I really don't like cooked cabbage!

Sometimes, though, they took us out to eat at Bill Knapps.  The children's menu at Bill Knapps featured pictures of animals, with each animal being a different entree.  My favorite was Elephant, which was creamed chicken and biscuits.  It was pretty much chicken pot pie filling served over a biscuit that had been split in half and laid open on the plate.  Mmmm.

Many years--okay, many decades--later when I learned how to make chicken pot pie from scratch, I remembered eating Elephant with my Grandpa and Grandma.  I decided, one day when I had leftover chicken to make into something for dinner, that I would serve Elephant to my husband and children.  That evening, as the kitchen was smelling good and I was rolling out biscuit dough, DH asked what was for dinner.

I told him "Elephant", and explained what it was.  He looked at me as if I were nuts.  Apparently they didn't have Bill Knapps in the northwoods where he grew up.  He had never heard of such a thing.  And, I guess, he hadn't ever had good creamed chicken and biscuits either, because the curl of his lip didn't look like he was all that enthused about the coming meal.

One bite, however, and he changed his mind (he loves my chicken pot pie).

Now, when I say we're having Elephant for dinner, he cheers.  And the kids enjoy telling their friends at school that we ate Elephant the night before.  They, of course, leave off the explanation of what Elephant really is.  Because it's more fun that way.  :0)

The Elephant Recipe (mine, not the original Bill Knapps)

If you'd like to make Elephant for yourself some night, just take about 2 cups of leftover cooked chicken, deboned and cut in chunks, steam up some peas, carrots, and diced potatoes, and add them to this chicken gravy recipe:

1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
1/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp flour
1 3/4 cup chicken broth (can make with 1 tsp bouillon and 1 3/4 cup water if you don't have the real deal on hand)
2/3 cup milk

In a 3 qt sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the onion and saute for about 2 minutes.  Stir in the flour, salt, and pepper.  Slowly add the chicken broth, stirring so not to form lumps with the flour/butter/onion mixture.  Once the broth is stirred in, add the milk.  Heat to boiling, stirring constantly.  Boil and stir one minute.

Stir in your pre-cooked chicken and veggies.  Turn to low and let sit while you make the biscuits.

2 cup flour
1/4 cup lard (or shortening)
1 Tbsp sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4  cup milk

Put all the dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl.  Cut in the shortening until mixture is crumbly, then stir in the milk.

On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough 20-25 times.  Roll out about 1" thick, and cut with a glass, cookie cutter, or biscuit cutter into 2" or 3" rounds.  Put on an ungreased baking sheet and bake in 450 degree oven for 9-11 minutes, or until the biscuits are golden brown on top.

When your biscuits are done, serve one sliced in half on each plate for small children, or two sliced in half per plate for older children and adults.  Scoop the chicken gravy mixture and pour over top of biscuits.

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