Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Chicken and Dumplings (and the winner of the contest!)

Nothing says "down-home, family-friendly meal" like chicken and dumplings. Whether it's on a cold winter night or on a summer evening outdoors, chicken and dumplings will remind you of home, no matter how far from "home" you really are. And the best part about this recipe--there's no roux! The chicken makes its own roux. I know some people out there are afraid of making roux but love creamy foods, so if you're one of these folks, this recipe is for you!

Start things off with a bowl of flour seasoned with salt and pepper.

I used chicken legs because that's what I had. It was about 2 1/4 lbs. of chicken. (But only four legs! These CSA chickens are huge! But honestly--the best chicken I ever ate. For real.)

You could use thighs or breasts, or even wings if you wanted to really get into picking the meat off of them. I suppose you could use boneless, skinless chicken here, but it definitely wouldn't add the same amount of flavor you get from the skin and the bones. Do you like less flavor? I don't.

Coat the chicken in the flour and tap off the excess.

In a large pot, heat a combination of olive oil and butter over medium heat. The butter will give the chicken a good flavor, and the olive oil, which has a higher smoking point, will help keep your butter and chicken from burning.

Once your fats are up to temp, gently add your chicken and brown it on all sides.

While your chicken gets flavorful, you can devote your time to peeling and chopping vegetables. I used carrots, celery, and onion, but you could use any vegetables you like. Parsnips or peas would be really nice (although I wouldn't add the peas until the very end).

When your chicken has browned, remove it and put it off to the side.

Pour your veggies into the pot recently vacated by the chicken. Give them a good salt and peppering and saute them until softened.

Pour a whole box (4 cups) of chicken broth over your softened vegetables.

Put the chicken back in the pot and season everything with some poultry seasoning. Turn the temperature down to somewhere between medium and low--just so you get a nice, soft bubble. Put a lid on the pot and let time do its thing.

While the chicken is cooking, you can start on the dumplings. Flour and cornmeal are first on the list. You could use all flour--but I find that the cornmeal adds a little substance to the sometimes-gummy dumplings. Give it a try!

Next is baking powder and salt and pepper.

I also like to add some parsley, just for some color to a pretty brownish dish. You can use dried parsley, too--just remember the 1 tbsp. fresh herbs to 1 tsp. dried herbs rule.

Stir in a cup of chicken broth. If you like your dumplings a little more chewy, on the noodle-y side, a couple of eggs here would serve you well.

Almost dumplings...

Now before you add the dumplings, you'll need to pull the chicken out of the pot and pick off the meat and then add it back into the pot.

Have I mentioned before that picking meat off chicken bones is probably my least favorite kitchen task ever?

All right, now that your chicken is back int the pot, it's time to drop in the dumplings. I used a small ice cream scoop, but there's nothing wrong with using good old spoons, either.

Everybody's in the pot and waiting!

Put the lid back on the pot and let things simmer down for about 15 to 20 minutes.

After that short wait, your biscuits should be fluffy and soft, surrounded by a rich chicken gravy and bright vegetables. If you want a little more creamyness, a tablespoon or two of cream would be a nice addition before you add the dumplings. Either way, I hope you find these as good as Mom used to make--or at least pretty darn close!

Recipe: Chicken and Dumplings

2 lbs. chicken parts, bone and skin on
1/2 c. flour
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. olive oil

1/2 large onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped

4 c. chicken broth
1 tsp. poultry seasoning
salt and pepper, to taste

1 1/2 flour
1/2 c. cornmeal
2 tbsp. fresh parsley (or 1 tsp. dried)
1/2 tsp. salt
pepper, to taste
2 tsp. baking powder
1 c. chicken broth
2 eggs (optional, if chewier dumplings are desired)

Melt butter and olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.

Dredge chicken parts in flour seasoned with salt and pepper. Cook in the butter and olive oil mixture until golden brown on all sides. Remove chicken from pot.

Add carrots, celery, and onion to the pot. Cook until slightly softened, about 5-8 minutes. Pour in chicken broth and poultry seasoning.

Add chicken back into the pot. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover; let cook 20-30 minutes.

Remove chicken from pot; pick meat from bones and discard the bones.

In a large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and pepper, and parsley. Stir in chicken broth (and eggs, if desired) until just combined.

Gently drop spoonfuls of batter directly into the pot. Cover and let cook another 15-20 minutes or until biscuits are fully cooked. Serve!

And now for the winner of the Kim Chee Casserole 100th Post Contest. Thanks to everyone who entered--it really helps to know that there's as readership out there :D And comments, questions, and any other sort of feedback is always appreciated!

The winner of the Kim Chee Casserole 100 Posts contest is multipliedluv!

Congratulations! Please send your croissant choice and mailing address to so we can arrange shipping.

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