I’ve definitely been more into cooking lately, and not just eating. I’d say the results have been fairly successful on the whole, which is what makes me want to try out more new dishes.
There’s one dish I’ve generally been able to make with a varying degree of success for the past decade or so: Chicken and Dumplings.
Oddly enough, though I can cook it, I don’t do it very often. I think the last time I made it was a few years ago. It always comes out just fine – it’s a solidly respectable dish. But it’s always been a bit ho-hum to me. I think it’s mainly the chicken – the star ingredient – the put me off of cooking it more often. The chickens from the supermarket (what I’d use) don’t have much flavor, so the end result would be a decent stew/soup, but with little real body to the soup. In a word, flat. Lackluster. Even when using broth or stock for the liquid. I’ve found a chicken brand/type that I find more flavorful, and I think it really helps the dish overall. I really enjoyed the latest incarnation of the Chicken and Dumplings I made recently.
Here’s a pile of chicken pieces that have been browned in the pan. I even butchered the chicken myself! I’m pretty proud of that one. Albany John had to leave the kitchen a few times while watching me hack through chicken joints with a cleaver, but I ended up with cleanly cut sections of individual breasts, backbone, wings, thighs, and drumsticks.
While the onions were caramelizing, I diced up some of the last carrots Albany John dug up from his garden. After I diced them, I added them to the hotter section of the pan to cook for a few minutes.
Once those were cooked, I made a roux in the pan out of flour and butter so it would thicken up a little more while cooking.
I added the chicken pieces back to the pan and covered it with some chicken stock/broth that was kicking around in the fridge and then about 2-3 times as much with water until all of the chicken was covered. Brought it up to a boil and then turned it down to a simmer to cook covered for about 30-40 minutes. The chicken stock was helpful in adding flavor since I wasn’t planning on cooking this for hours on end.
After covering the freshly plopped dumplings and letting them steam for 15 minutes, it was dumpling time! I served these atop egg noodles (which you can see in the first picture).
Oh, regarding seasonings, I just did a little salt, sage, and paprika when I added my liquids. Add whatever you like.
Chicken and Dumplings
1 Whole Chicken
2 large onions, cut into thin slivers
3-4 cloves of garlic
Butcher chicken. I cut it into: breasts, drumsticks, thighs, wings, and the back.
Heat pan to medium heat. Add olive oil and lightly brown the skin of the chicken.
Add more oil if necessary, and over low heat add onions. Cook 10-15 minutes until nicely caramelized.
Add carrots. Cook 5-10 more minutes until slightly softened.
Add 2-3 T butter to pan and melt it. Add flour to absorb the butter (around 1/3 a cup) to make a roux and cook lightly for 2-3 minutes.
Add chicken back to pan.
Pour in chicken stock/broth and water to cover chicken. (I did about 30% broth 70% water)
Add whatever seasonings you want.
Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook, covered ~30 minutes.
Remove chicken from stew and let the liquid cook down more.
While liquid is cooking down, cut chicken into bite sized pieces.
Return to liquid, and lower heat to a simmer.
¾ t salt
2 T melted butter
¾ C milk
Mix all dry ingredients together well. Add liquid ingredients and mix lightly (don’t overwork it). It will look like a shaggy/wet dough.
Make dumplings by the spoonful and drop into pan. Cook covered 15 minutes.