Image via WikipediaI came across this recipe while I was paging through my pile of Everyday Food magazines because I am DESPERATELY trying to get caught back up on my insane habit of magazine reading on top of, you know, reading, writing, homework, housework, parenting, being a wife, blah blah blah. Nolan always shakes his head at my pile up of magazines, I'm pretty sure that every time I make major progress, 30 more come. At least we recycle, right? :)
Anyways, I think chicken and dumplings are quintessentially Midwestern spring time food. Warm and gooey in case it's still cold out, lot of veggies, and everybody loves dumplings. With trepidation, I tried this recipe our on the family and they LOVED IT. Now, because our budget is stretched a bit think right now, I did use a majority of substitutions. I will put the recipe ingredients followed by what I used in parenthesis. We had some major car repairs, battling stomach flu, and a lot of other overwhelming stuff last week and I STILL feel like I'm playing catch up. Oh and might I remember the INSANE car repair bill- because we were leaking both oil AND gas?
I like recipes that are templates. A LOT. I like cooking because it's one of the few areas that if you substitute an idea into a recipe, etc., and it doesn't work right, try again until you love it! Not to mention that chicken and dumplings or chicken noodle soup (home made) is part of my grand master plan to sneak plenty of veggies into our diets. (insert evil laugh here) My kids may grumble about all the extra healthy stuff we've been working into our diet this year, but when I point out how much more energetic and healthy we are, the argument stops pretty quickly.
But do you know what WON'T stop quickly? My LOVE of chicken and dumplings. So let's get cooking!
Chicken and Cornmeal Dumplings
(adapted from an Every Day Cooking recipe)
For The Soup
-3 tbs unsalted butter or olive oil (though I prefer butter in most chicken and dumpling recipes)
-5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or about 1/2 lbs) cut into 1 inch pieces (we bought regular ones because they were on sale and trimmed skin bones, and fat off ourselves
-coarsely ground salt and pepper
-1/2 bunch of scallion cut into 1/2 inch pieces (I only had shallots on hand. I used a large one and minced it well.)
-1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
-1 medium green bell pepper, seeded and diced medium (This is just a personal preference here- but I used a yellow bell pepper. I prefer yellow and red to green any day. Use what you like.)
-2 celery stalks, rinsed well, diced medium (I bumped it to 4)
-1 cup diced okra (this is my own addition- use or omit if you like)
-2 medium carrots, diced medium (Again, I bumped it to 4. Also, I rinse carrots really well for soups and dishes but never peel them unless eating them raw. More fiber!)
-1 tsp dried thyme (I also added 1 tsp dried savory)
-1/4 Cup all purpose white or wheat flour- your preference
-2 bottles (12 ounces each) of pilsner or another light to medium lager (We had 1 bottle, so I used 12 ounces of low sodium, fat free chicken broth for the other bottle)
-1 can (28 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes (Again, personal preference here but also a substitution. I used a 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes with green chilies. In general, I prefer cooking with crushed rather than whole canned tomatoes)
-1 or 2 Tbs red wine vinegar (your preference on amount)
1. In a large dutch oven or heavy pot with a tightly fitting lid, melt 1 tbs butter over medium-high heat. Season chicken well with salt and pepper then brown in pot, stirring frequently so that all pieces get evenly browned- usually about 5 minutes. With slotted spoon, transfer to a medium bowl and cover.
2. Add the other two tbs of butter, melt, add in veggies. Cook until everything is softened slightly, about 4 minutes. Stir in the herbs and flour, whisking for about a minute, so it thickens your broth.
3. Return chicken to pot, and add ale or ale and broth mixture. Whisk together very well.
4. Add can of tomatoes, bring to a rapid simmer, and cook for about 30 minutes, uncovered. Season to taste with vinegar, salt, and pepper.
5. Reduce heat to a medium simmer and drop dumpling dough on top of stew. Cover and simmer until dumplings are cooked through- usually 7-10 minutes.
Corn Meal Dumplings
-1 cup of yellow corn meal
-1/2 cup of flour
-1 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon of salt
-1/2 cup of milk
-2 tablespoons of butter or margarine, melted
-1/4 teaspoon of chopped parsley
Sift together corn meal, flour, baking powder and salt into mixing bowl, beat eggs and milk together in bowl. Add to dry ingredients. Stir in butter or margarine and parsley. Drop by rounded tablespoonful into chicken broth, cover and cook 15 minutes, do not uncook. Makes 6 to 8 servings.