Before we get started: In this case, the apostrophe takes the place of the g in dumpling. Please do not think I don't know the difference between a plural and a possessive, because I wouldn't be able to sleep tonight. Thank you.
So, yesterday, we again made the trek down to Pinehurst to visit with Auntie Ev, Uncle Ray and Auntie 'Leenie. As we often do, we took a lunch for us all to enjoy. I asked Uncle Ray what they would like, and he said salami sandwiches. Let me just say that Uncle Ray is taking some serious diuretics right now, and even I, the Salt Queen, couldn't agree to that. It wouldn't do to be taking coals to Newcastle, giving the cobbler's child shoes or giving more salt to Mr. Water Retention. And if I haven't told you, he'll be 93 in October.
The Beloved and I went to the store, saw some lovely organic, free range chicken and some frozen (the horror!) dumplings with all natural ingredients--no hydrogenated fats; no HFCS (of course I checked the label). Add some broth to make it double-chickeny and some vegetables because they don't eat enough of them, and chicken and dumplings avec veggies it was.
We took our bounty with us, and all were very Pleased with the meal. Of course, since I'm me, I forgot to take pictures of The Making of the Meal. I figured that I'd just take my camera and take pictures in Pinehurst like I did on Chicken Noodle Soup Day. I took the camera and didn't take any pictures. The only picture I have is from our twice-reheated early supper today. (Sorry) We rounded out our meal with some whole grain bread and goat cheese. And wine, from North Georgia, of course.
Underdocumented Chicken and Dumplin's
- one whole chicken
- a box of low sodium chicken broth
- 1 large onion, cut up
- 2 stalks celery, cut up
- 2 carrots, chopped (I thought "cut up" would be redundant)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- about 15 peppercorns
- Old Bay, to taste (I just can't get enough)
- a judicious amount of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 20 frozen dumplings, the flat noodle kind that look like mini-lasagne noodles
- 1/2 bag frozen mixed organic veggies from TJ's
- 6 oz. sliced mushrooms
- 1/3 cup half and half or cream (optional)
- cornstarch slurry
- lemon juice
First, I put the chicken in a pot with the chicken broth and cut up vegetables, garlic, thyme and enough water to barely cover. I threw in the peppercorns and about a teaspoon of salt, as well.
I simmered the chicken until his skin was softened and some of the fat had rendered into the broth. Then, I pulled out the chicken, deprived him of his skin (thanking said chicken for helping to make a lovely meal for the relatives) and then placed him, skinless, back into the pot.
I let him simmer for another 45 minutes or so then removed him again and let him cool just slightly.
While he was cooling off some, I skimmed the fat off the stock and strained it into another pot, bringing it to a boil. I added some Old Bay, because I like it. Then, I tossed in the dumplings and simmered them on low-ish heat until they were done, about 30 minutes. I also added the mushrooms and frozen veggies. While everyone was cooking, I sliced all the meat off of the chicken carcass, freezing him for stock another day.
Once the dumplings were cooked, I added a few splashes of half and half--not a lot. I tasted and corrected seasonings, leaving it somewhat under-salted.
Then, I added in the cut up chicken and thickened the whole thing up quite a bit with a cornstarch slurry. I brightened up the flavors at the end with some lemon juice (to wake it up and to make up for the Lack of Salt).
And that's how that went. I must say, it reheated beautifully, although the dumplings tended to lose their Attractive Long Rectangular Shape in the process. If I were making this just for ourselves, I would have increased the salt and the dairy and left out the veggies. Then, I would have served it with a side of veggies. The way I did it this time seemed the path of least resistance to get Uncle Ray to eat carrots, though, and he didn't even complain!
Of course, you could certainly make your own dumplings--the biscuit kind or the noodle kind.
This brings me to a story. Please don't roll your eyes; you'll enjoy it. It is a funny yet Cautionary Tale. About 20 years ago, an old boyfriend and I decided to make chicken and dumplings. We were unaware of the whole "simmer" concept, so after boiling for 30 minutes, our lovely homemade noodle dumplings had completely disintegrated and joined Team Broth. Traitor Dumplings. We looked in there, didn't see any dumplings, looked at each other in horror and were all "Where the hell did they GO?!" Ah, youth. We ended up eating Chicken a la King from a can.
The good news is that a)I can warn you of the Perils of Boiling Dumplings and b)we wrote a country song to commemorate our Sad Experience. Here is the chorus:
Dumplin's, oh dumplin's! Oh why did you depart?
Why did you leave us standin' here by the stove with a broken heart?
Oh, we followed the directions and did just what they said,
But when we checked the dumplin's, we found that they had fled!
I can't remember the rest, but I do remember the last line:
"So we opened up the cupboard.....and made Chicken a la King!"
Catchy, n'est-ce pas?! I hope that you learn from our Dumplin' Disaster. Enjoy, all!