Thursday, October 10, 2013

Chicken and Dumplings

I love each season in it's turn (although Spring and Fall are slightly more welcome than Summer and Winter.)
For the autumn, I tend to get outside more, trying to enjoy that lovely perfect weather but I also tend to make hearty, healthy food that brings tons of comfort, especially when the wind and rain start showing up.
This month is starting out with Chicken and Dumplings. After making them a few times, I have found the easiest way for me to manage them, with maximum flavor. This is one of my barely-constructed recipes, very easy to adapt.

I start with some boneless, skinless chicken thighs (1 to 2 lbs). If I have the time, I like to slow roast them in the oven, with perhaps a bit of garlic thrown in alongside. By the time it comes out the flavor is maximized without much effort on my part.

Then I put the chicken and the drippings/broth into a big soup pot. I add 4-8 cups of broth/stock (8 cups for 2 lbs of chicken), and some herbs (bay leaf, thyme, a bit of basil sometimes, sage, a hint of rosemary.. it's all good.) I let that simmer until the chicken falls apart with a little encouragement from a spoon. If I don't have the time, I will start the chicken cooking in the bottom of the soup pot with the garlic, then add the broth after it is browned nicely. I cook the chicken and broth with the lid off so the stock will concentrate more.

After the chicken is suitably chastened, I add veggies. Traditionally I like a pea and carrot mixture, but it is good with just about anything. I like adding bell peppers sometimes too.
I sometimes refresh the herbs, add a bit of white wine or wheat beer or any other flavor to add some freshness, but usually I just let things stand as they are.

Then I mix up the dumplings.
2 cups flour
1 tblsp baking soda
1 cup liquid - I like using a cup of hot stock from the pot for this, then I needn't add oil and the heat makes the baking soda puff up really nicely.
If you want to add oil, a tablespoon is enough.
Sometimes I add an egg after stirring in the liquid.

Then I make sure the veggies are cooked and the stock in the pot is at a low boil.
I spoon the dumpling mixture on top of the pot, turn the heat down to low/simmer and put on the lid.

Usually about 10 minutes later the dumplings are done!

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