Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Cool Weather Comfort

I love, love, love this cooler weather! It's a rarety here in East Texas so we take it when we can get it! Of course, steamy bowls of goodness hit the spot when the evening temperature is dropping into the 40's and this has become our favorite recipe for chicken and dumplings. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Chicken & Dumplings

For the Chicken and Stock:
1 whole chicken
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. black pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. salt

For the Dumplings:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbs. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk

For the Sauce:
2 Tbs. butter
2 Tbs. oil
2 carrots, thinly slice or diced
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
chicken stock from chicken
1 cup frozen peas or corn
1/4 cup heavy cream
chopped parsely for garnish

For the stock: place your whole chicken in a large stock pot or slow cooker and add enough water to ust barely cover the chicken. Place your bay leaves, thyme, pepper, garlic and salt in the pot with the chicken. Cook on the stove top, partially covered for about 2-3 hours at medium-low heat or in a slow cooker (crock pot)for about 4 hours. I think the slow cooker yeilds a richer stock if you are able to take the time and cook it with this method. Remove the cooked chicken from the stock, discard the bay leaves and shred the chicken when it has cooled. Strain the stock and set aside. It will be used for the sauce.

For the Dumplings*: Stir together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a small bowl, using a whisk, lightly beat the eggs, and buttermilk together; pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients adn gently fold. Mix just until the dough comes together; the batter should be thick and cake-like.

For the Sauce: in a large pot or dutch oven, over medium heat, add the butter and oil. Add the carrots, celery, garlic and bay leaves, sauteing until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour to make a roux. Continue to cook an stir for about 2 minutes to remove the starchy taste. Slowly pour in the chicken stock, one cup at a time, stirring or whisking well after each addition. Add the frozen peas or corn. Let the sauce simmer and thicken for about 10-15 minutes; stir in heavy cream. Fold the reserved chicken into the sauce and bring to a simmer. Using two spoons, carefully drop heaping tablespoons of the dumpling batter into the hot mixture. The dumplings should cover the top of the sauce, but should not be too crowded. Poach the dumplings for 10-15 minutes until they are firm. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Top with chopped parsley.

*Live-It-Up-Variation: Stire 1/4 cup chopped chives into the dry ingredients when preparing the dumplings.