Chicken & Dumplings: The Return of Comfort Food

There’s nothing left to say but this…it was going to snow…in March…just days before spring. So I had to make chicken and dumplings. Plus my biggest guy was already sick, meaning I’d already put together chicken soup (possibly my best ever! I used a pre-brined organic chicken. OMG delicious. Thanks Trader Joe’s – you’ve redeemed yourself from the twice bad cream incident.) It's a twist of sorts on the last time I visited this great comfort food with you. Both delicious. Both easy. Here is this week's approach.

I had cooked chicken and stock, and every intention of jamming the dish full of vegetables and not so much fat. Veggies are easy, carrots, onions and celery all count towards the daily servings. Don’t be afraid to use the less than perfect specimens from the bin. Like my mom, I throw them in wherever I can. To make a “creamy” sauce sans cream – use vegetable oil, a little flour and flavorful stock. The oil and flour make a roux, the stock sets it into sauce. Works every time.

The dumplings are lighter with all purpose white flour, but I subbed cornmeal for some of it. Honestly, even I don’t think it would count as whole grain serving…unless I sold them in the freezer section, with a picture of a field slapped on the box after paying a company to measure the fiber.

With chicken that’s already cooked, this dish didn’t take more than 20 minutes to assemble. The next 15 allows the dumplings to rise.

Stew Ingredients:

1 large onion, chopped

3 smallish stalks of celery, chopped

½ bag whittled carrots or 3 carrots sliced

2 big pinches dried thyme

¼ cup vegetable oil plus more for melting veggies in pan

1/3 cup all purpose flour

1 quart chicken stock

1 mug frozen peas defrosted

3-ish cups of chopped up chicken already cooked

Salt & pepper if desired

Dumpling ingredients:

1 ½ cups flour

½ cup cornmeal

¾ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 pinches thyme

¾ cup milk

2 tablespoons melted butter or oil

Add a tablespoon of oil to heavy bottom pan that has a lid. Melt onion, carrots & celery with a pinch or two of salt over medium heat. Add the thyme. Add ¼ veg oil and whisk/stir in 1/3 cup flour. It will look gloopy, especially with the vegetables already in there. Cook a minute or two, then slowly add stock. I used mine straight from the fridge – I don’t recommend that, I just forgot to take it out. Anyways it still worked.

When it starts to bubble and thicken, turn down the heat. Let it cook for 5 or so minutes. Then add chicken and peas. Taste and adjust seasonings.

While the stew is cooking, combine the dry ingredients for the dumplings. Add the milk and butter making sure the butter isn’t super hot and the milk isn’t icy cold. Stir until combined – mine needed a touch more moisture, I chose to delete some flour. Still, the dough should be sticky. Drop by tablespoon on top of hot stew. Put the lid on it and wait. In 15 minutes – comfort. As the cook, eat a dumpling before the rest of the family to check for “doneness”.

Enjoy the dumplings – B

 

BTW – this dish can be kosher!

BTW2-if you don’t feel like making dumplings, serve over noodles, with rice or spaetzle or simply cut up 3 large russet potatoes into half inch chunks and add to the pot.

 

TV dinner (& dumplings)

 

My cast iron skillet hadn't seen the light of day in…well, in so long I can't date it. Talking to Julie Hearne on SiriusXM 110 (The Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook) shamed me into trying something other than fried chicken or corn bread – seriously, the only reasons I bought it.

She said make chicken and dumplings and I did! More self-appreciation as I used up a couple of cups of cooked chicken, a handful of frozen peas and the already opened box of chicken stock.

So super simple.

Chicken base

1 1/2-2 cups cooked chicken, bite size pieces

2 tablespoons veggie oil of choice

Medium onion, chopped

2 stalks celery, sliced thin

2-3 carrots, sliced thin

3 tablespoons flour

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, less if dried

1-2 cups chicken stock (sorry I didn't measure)

Salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 350. Heat skillet, add oil & onions over medium heat. Soften a few minutes, then add carrots & celery. Salt and cook until tender. Add thyme and flour. Cook a minute or two. Add broth, but not so much it is soupy. It will start to thicken. Add chicken. Cook until bubbly, adjust liquid, re-season with salt & pepper. Top with tablespoons of dumpling dough to cover. Bake 350 for 20 minutes.

Dumplings

I pulled the dumpling measurements from Martha Stewart, minus the dill I didn't have. It's flour, salt, baking powder, milk.

No top for my skillet made a crustier top on the dumplings. Feel free to cover if you like 🙂

Dig in, spoon optional-B