Monday, January 19, 2009

chicken and dumplings

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When I was a kid, I was a picky eater. The type of picky eater who would look at a plate of food and turn my nose up at it just because it looked weird or gross- kind of embarrassing to admit now. The first time I ever tried a pickle, I was 17. How pathetic is that? Guess what, PICKLES ARE AWESOME. I wasted 17 years avoiding pickles for NOTHING. So stupid. Ever since then, (and more so since I met my husband, many years ago) I've attempted to be a more adventurous eater. Sometimes I find myself too grossed out (DANISH CHEESE? My best friend offered me this Danish cheese when I went to visit for her wedding and I almost barfed when I smelled it. I couldn't get it in my mouth.) but I make it a point to try a bite of whatever is in front of me, because you only live once.

All that said- I'm 25 years old, and (until this evening) I've never eaten dumplings. That doesn't mean I've never been served chicken and dumplings- far from it. My mom made chicken and dumplings on a regular basis growing up, using big cans of Swanson's broth and Bisquick for the dumplings. She even made it a few months ago when we all got together for dinner at my sister's house! For some reason, I've just always avoided the dumplings and spooned myself big bowls of plain ol' soup. "I don't like dumplings!" Whatever, dudes. Guess what, DUMPLINGS ARE AWESOME.

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My husband came home with a copy of Cook's Illustrated the other night, an issue devoted entirely to soups and stews. First of all- I've never looked at an issue of Cook's Illustrated before, but right in the front, there's a page of "Quick Tips" that are pretty awesome and handy. Some of them are kind of dumb (Snipping off a piece of a plastic bag of frozen veggies to use as a bag tie? Just use a rubberband, dumdums. Or even simpler- twist the bag and then fold it over. Duhhh.) but one that blew my mind that I have to share is to invert the lid on your dutch oven to create a rack for roasting vegetables in tinfoil. Space-saving! Anyway, after perusing the magazine for soup ideas, he settled on chicken soup with dumplings. The recipe in the magazine wasn't anything to write home about- it was billed as a "Quick and Easy!" recipe (lame!) touting the benefits of store-bought broth, and omitting celery just to save time. (!?! like chopping celery takes SOOO long. Crybabies.) So we just based our recipe on the one in the magazine but went ahead and did our own thing.

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So- start with a basic Chicken Soup recipe, and then add some other goodies:

6 or so cups of broth (we made our own chicken broth last night.)
2 large carrots, diced
2 stalks of celery (oh my god, try not to freak out about how LONG IT TAKES TO CHOP IT), diced
1 med-large yellow onion, diced
handful of minced garlic
2 chicken breasts, chopped into bite sized pieces
Oil, butter, flour
about 1/3 cup (or like, a glug) of heavy cream

Saute vegetables in a good sized hunk of butter and a drizzle of olive oil (starting with onions & garlic) for a few minutes until they begin to soften. Throw in a handful of flour and stir in quickly to make a roux. Toast for a moment, then add stock. Stir rapidly until liquid begins to boil, then drop to a simmer. Add the chicken breast, and a glug of heavy cream. Toss in a bay leaf, and let simmer for a few minutes.

In a mixing bowl, prep your dumplings:

2 cups of flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
generous dash of salt
1 to 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
fresh thyme leaves
lemon zest

Mix together dry ingredients, then add cream until "desired consistency" is reached. Jason didn't tell me what the 'desired' consistency is, but I'm guessing something thick enough to spoon into the hot soup that will keep its shape. Cook's Illustrated describes is as "very thick and shaggy." I like describing dough as "shaggy."

Spoon dumplings into the soup pot, covering the entire surface of the soup. Put a lid on the pot and let simmer for 20-30 minutes until dumplings puff up.

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We ate the soup right away, but I found that by the time I got to my second helping a few minutes later, the texture of the dumplings had noticeably improved. They started out rather silky and creamy- very delicious, but maybe a little mushy? As the steam escaped the pot after removing the lid, the tops of the dumplings began to dry out a little bit and the texture became a little firmer as the soup thickened. Having never actually eaten a dumpling, (I'm so lame!) I asked Jason if the texture was right, and he said it felt perfect to him. He described it as being a little gelatinous on the outside, and biscuit-like on the inside. We had enough of this soup to really fill up about 4 people, and since I assumed the dumplings probably wouldn't keep well overnight (I imagine they'd soak up the soup, right?) I called up my buddy to join us for dinner and she headed over. She's from Texas, and she declared the texture of the dumplings perfect. It was Jason's first time making chicken and dumplings and I consider it to be a roaring success- we don't have any leftovers. I think it would be super easy to make a vegan version of this- just sub chicken stock for vegetable, and replace the heavy cream with some soy half & half? Give it a try, if you want.

31 comments:

Steffi said...

That´s funny... I´d never have pictured you as such a picky eater! My sister used to eat only one-colored-food when she was younger... nothing dotted, beware!

brodie said...

this sounds really great, i think i'm going to have to try it myself. i first had a dumpling when i stayed with an aunt when i was about 16- i was missing out! why hadn't my mother ever made them!?

Angela said...

If you've come over to the dumpling side of life, you have GOT to look up Paula Deen's recipe for Blueberry dumplings. OH MY WORD. So good. It's just blueberries, sugar and water, and then a quick dumpling recipe, simmer it all together for 20 minutes and put it over ice cream. Oh. Yeah.

jill elise said...

We must be on the same wavelength, I made a gluten free version of this for dinner last night, but baked it in the oven and called it chicken and biscuits!

Catlin Humes said...

I do love me some Chicken and Dumplings.

Alicia Carrier said...

steffi, i think part of the reason i was so picky as a child is that i come from a large family, and in order to accommodate all of us, my mom had to cook a lot of boring stuff. the important thing is that i'm not very picky now, haha.

Tokyoastrogirl said...

First off- you are so funny and your posts make me laugh. So thanks.

My dad used to make us chicken and dumplings, then he made us make him chicken and dumplings on one of my sister and my two nights a week where we'd cook for them. I think we were about 10 years old, and the chicken and dumplings were my favorite thing to make. It wasn't as gourmet as yours- it was basically a cut up chicken, some butter, milk, flour and Bisquick biscuits but man.......it was sooo good. Something about cooking the batter in a pool of milk and butter just makes them into dumplings, I guess!

Anyway, great post. Maybe I'll go home and try to create my own version!

PS- the celery thing is so lame. I hate time saving recipes that omit such basic steps.

laura said...

truly, nothing more soothing than a big bowl of chicken and dumplin's. mm, tastes like home!

Megan said...

This soup looks delicious!

P.S. I've just tagged you for an award on my blog!
http://megan-deliciousdishings.blogspot.com/2009/01/honest-scrap-blog-award.html

Soon, Then said...

I've always wanted to make this! Thanks for the easy recipe. You frequently inspire my week's cooking...example: I made blueberry scones this weekend. Yum!

duodishes said...

There's something about mushy dough in soup that gets us going. This looks so good! Very delish!

eileen said...

ha ha! oh dear, try not to tire yourself out doing all that terrible COOKING to come up with A DELICIOUS OUTCOME! ps: can I have some?

Tara said...

hey, i too had made chicken stock the night before, so i took it as a sign and made these for dinner last night. they were creamy and comforting. and the southern boy i made them for told me they seemed authentic to him. anyway, thanks for recipe. =)

thewindhover said...

Oh so delicious! I have never tried making dumplings but its never late to try - thank you again for another tastey inspiration.

Erin said...

ROFL..."use a rubberband, dumdums!" still chuckling!

gastroanthropologist said...

Chix soup with dumplings is the only my husband ever requests...it just warms you up and makes you happy. Your dumpling consistency explanation is perfect...sometimes I add a little cornmeal and fresh herbs. Just like you said the dumplings are the best eaten that night.

Jesse said...

DUMPLINGS!!?!?!! I love them, in anything and everything. Chicken and dumplings is the yummiest!

Liana W.W. said...

Oh my--that looks delicious!

I'm not one to question your infinite wisdom (and exceptional soup-making prowess), but when you say "handful of minced garlic" do you mean a handful of minced garlic?

Again, not questioning... I just have no confidence in my cooking.

Joann Kim said...

Thank you for this recipe. Made it for dinner tonight and it was great! I wrote a bit about it on my blog.

http://updownacross.wordpress.com/2009/01/21/chicken-and-dumplings/

Thanks,
Joann

Greens said...

I am a dumpling girl....love them. I just picked up two years of back issues of Cooks Illustrated off of freecycle. I have been cooking like crazy ever since.

Irene said...

I just found your blog - I love it! The "time-saving tips" always crack me up as well, but the celery one was the best.

Katie Z. said...

I'm making a triple batch of this tonight for my youth group at church!

Here is a dumb question, but an important one... the chicken that is cut into bite sized pieces and added to the soup... that's supposed to be raw chicken, right?

Alicia Carrier said...

katie- yes, raw chicken! good luck on making so much! sounds daunting. let me know how it comes out!

Angie's Scrappin Spot said...

oh this sounds and looks so good, I have always wanted to try this , thanks for the recipe. going to make this for supper.

ladyrita said...

I've been trying to make dumplings that meet my husband's approval since we got married. I made these last night (with whole wheat flour, no less! was out of white) and he declared them 'awesome.' I loved them, too.

Simple Things said...

Thank you thank you thank you!!! My mom made these when we were young and I have asked for a good recipe for eva but her recipe includes "a little of this, a little of that" and I don't cook that way! I can't wait to try this out! Maybe tomorrow!

Give It Away Girl said...

Yum! Dumplings are a recent discovery for me too, and I've been throwing similarly simple baking-powder dumplings into most of my (vegan) soups lately. Really good in cabbage/carrot soup. . . in lentil soup. . .nom.

I was contemplating trying out some sort of cornbread dumpling in veggie chili soon.

ellen said...

Mmmm... dumplings. These remind me of my great grandmother, Virgie (aka Granny). She would cook elaborate Sunday Dinners (lunch) including dumplings, fried pies, fried chicken, biscuits, rolls, etc.... impossible amounts of Southern food. Maybe I will give these a try in honor of her memory :) Thanks!

asiajane said...

Great recipe... I just made them using a gluten-free flour mix and I omitted chicken/chicken stock and added carrots. So, a gluten-free vegetarian version (I'm sure you're like, eh?).

My husband really liked the touch of lemon zest in the biscuits. It was a nice addition.

laquillen said...

You are hilarious. Laughed out loud reading this. Yeah - WTF with omitting celery b/c of the "chopping time." Lameness! I use Tim McGraw's recipe for Chicken & Dumplings and I LOVE it. I'm sure Cooks Illustrated would find fault with it but whatever. They're too busy finding creative ways to tie up bags of frozen vegetables. (PS - my mom poisoned my siblings and me against veggies she hated growing up. I never had asparagus, brussel sprouts or cabbage until the last few years and I LOVE all of them!)

debbiedee said...

OMG, I just discovered your blog and I LOVE it! As a self-proclaimed foodie and an every day cook, I love your mix of recipes, pix and funny ancedotes ... hilarious! Keep 'em coming and we'll keep reading!