Friday, January 11, 2008

Chicken and Dumplings

Since the reason for this blog is to share some recipes, it is time to add another.

I like to make soup as our supper on Saturdays during the colder months of the year. Somehow knowing that we will have soup keeps me from worrying about what's to eat on Saturday night and I should get to try some new least in theory. The "try new recipes" theory doesn't work all that well around here. I can plan whatever soup I want but come Saturday and the questions of "What's for dinner, Mom?" start up. My answer of things like Potato Chowder or Beef Vegetable Soup are met with moans and groans. "Please," they say, "please just make more Chicken and Dumplings." The little varmits. They love this stuff and since I started making the dumplings instead of buying them, they are even more into it. I KNOW I'm not making it tomorrow...nope, not gonna do it. Well, at least I'm going to make a pot of another kind....just for me!
Here's the infamous method I use for the kids' favorite soup.

Place a nice, fat chicken in a large pot. I like to buy chickens which have no antibiotics or hormones. I rinse the chicken and remove any innards that might be in the chicken before putting it in the pot. I cover the chicken with water. Then I add the contents of my "scrap" baggie. Whenever I cook, I save the peels, ends and trimmings from onions, celery, carrots, parsley and zucchini in a freezer bag. Then I have lots of tasty additions for our broths and stocks. I also add a few whole peppercorns and a palmful of salt. Bring that to a boil. Allow the chicken to cook at a slow boil for about an hour to an hour and a half. When the chicken almost falls apart, I remove it from the pot, place it on a rimmed baking sheet and let it cool. I take a few of the larger bones from the chicken and add them back to the pot. I let the broth and vegetables continue to cook for another 30 minutes to an hour. I usually cover the chicken with a paper towel and let it sit during that time.

Once the chicken is completely cooled, remove all the fat and bones and discard them. Chop the meat into chunks. This is the 9 (soon-to-be-10)year old, cutting up the chicken. Set that aside.
Then, using a wire-mesh strainer, pour the chicken broth into whatever will hold it while you get rid of the vegetable trimmings and bones. I like to line the strainer with a piece of cheesecloth to really get a clear broth, but it isn't a must. Return the broth to the cleaned out pot and bring it to a full rolling boil. In a large glass mixing bowl, mix 2/3 cup of the chicken broth with 2 cups of Bisquick brand baking mix. Stir with a wooden spoon just until mixed, then remove to a clean, lightly floured countertop. Knead the dumpling mixture just a bit until it is smooth. Now, roll it out.

See what a pro the 6-year-old is? It is really so simple to make these rolled dumplings and they taste wonderful! Now that they are rolled to about 1/8th-inch thick, cut them into about 1-inch squares. Really, the shape doesn't matter much, you could cut them into stars or circles or rectangles or teddy bears, or whatever, but we do squares because it doesn't waste any dough! Now, stack those squares on a plate and take them over to the boiling broth.
Drop each dumpling in quickly and be careful not to get splashed by the boiling burns!
When the dumplings first hit the boiling broth, they puff up. Stir them often, scraping the bottom of the pot and keep it at a rapid boil for a good while.
When the dumplings appear flat and almost opaque (like an egg noodle when cooked), they are done. Lower the heat so as not to scald your family's tongues.

That's it. It seems so involved but really it is just moments of work and a couple of hours of stirring now and then. The smell is incredible! Salt and pepper the whole pot to taste and serve it up. My little carbo-loaders like Garlic-Cheddar Biscuits to go alongside. It is hot, tasty and filling. Enjoy....just in time for your Soup Saturday! Now if we just had some snow~


Melissa said...

Yummo! I know what we are having Saturday night!

C-ya chic!


P.S. Now-a-days that's considered child labor, ya' know! :)

Patience said...

People should read this.