Chicken and Dumplings With Some Oomph...
I better check the kids for feathers. Lately there's an off-the-chart stream of chicken being consumed, resulting in an off-the-chart stream of chicken carcasses. Perfect for making homemade stock. All last week the kitchen was filled with the warming aroma of simmering stock roasting in the oven.
We've been on a soup song lately. With autumn squash tumbling out of the produce baskets at the market and into my kitchen, every time I open the fridge there's a new terrine of squash soup staring me down. Curried Butternut, then roasted Hubbard, all delish, but I'm ready for a change.
Chicken noodle soup crossed my mind. Then I thought noodles? Naa, how about dumplings? Chicken and dumplings. I haven't made dumplings in forever. I pulled out Great Grandma Giles original recipe book. This is our family-cooking bible (circa 1950) with only two in existence. My mother typed it on an old Royal typewriter. It's a treasured edition in my cookbook library. There are even recipes from magazines stuffed in right where Great Grandma left them. I knew there was a dumpling recipe in there on page 59.
The recipe was simple enough; great granny was a simple, traditional cook. But I wanted more oomph in my dumplings. I used her recipe as a base, and thought about my favorite herbs with chicken. Parsley, sage and thyme.Perfect.
Rather than poaching the chicken, I roasted one and made a separate gravy. Then put the meat from the chicken into the gravy. I know it sounds fiddly, but it's worth it. I poached the dumplings separately (in stock) and combined everything; vegetables, chicken and gravy, then topped it all with the dumplings. The result was a thicker, heartier, richer and tastier "soup".
Take time with your stock if you plan on doing it totally from scratch. Bland stock will result in bland results. But, if you go the prepared route, a good store-bought stock (in my opinion) is Kitchen Basics.
Chicken and Dumplings with Some Oomph
1 cup all-purpose flour
º cup yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
º teaspoon baking soda
º teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 teaspoons dried sage
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Ω teaspoon garlic powder
A few cranks of freshly ground pepper
æ cup well-shaken buttermilk,
plus 1 or 2 tbsps. more
4 pints good chicken stock
To make the dumplings:
Mix flour, cornmeal, baking powder and soda, salt, dried herbs and a few cranks of pepper into a bowl. Then add buttermilk, stirring with a fork just until dough is moistened, you may need to add another tablespoon or so of buttermilk (do not over mix). Flour your hands and form small golf ball-sized dumplings. The dough will be sticky.
In a large saucepan, heat chicken stock to a low boil. Drop the dumplings into stock, about 2 inches apart. They will expand a bit. Reduce heat and gently simmer dumplings, covered, until tops are dry to the touch or a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center, about 15 minutes. Remove carefully with a slotted spoon, set aside and cover. Reserve stock and use it as the liquid for the vegetables.
For the vegetables:
3 medium leeks sliced in º inch pieces white and light green parts only
1 medium onion chopped (not minced)
2 cups sliced carrots (º inch pieces)
1 cup celery (º inch pieces)
1 cup white wine
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 tablespoon canola oil
In a medium skillet, heat oil and cook all vegetables and thyme until aromatic and tender. Add wine and reduce by half. Add to the reserved stock.
For the chicken:
All the meat (white and dark) from a 3- Ω pound roasted chicken and gravy made from three cups of broth, º cup of flour and º of butter. Put all the chicken in the gravy and set aside.
Add the chicken and gravy to the vegetables and stock. Top with reserved dumplings and heat on very low heat until just simmering and everything is warmed through. Serve in large bowls.