CHICKEN AND DUMPLINGS

Today is our baby girl’s 23rd birthday. Where did the time go? Now, she is married with a newborn of her own! She came over to help get the Christmas tree and decorations up before our oldest son and his bride arrive next week. Let the festivities begin!

Since it was her birthday I asked what she wanted for her birthday dinner. I should have known better…chicken and dumplings are always her request. The only way I know to make them is from scratch so it’s a several hour ordeal. While I was preparing everything another daughter and niece called to say they were coming over too. Time to double/triple the recipe. This is one meal that second helpings are guaranteed so make plenty. So much for getting the house cleaned and decorated.

INGREDIENTS FOR CHICKEN
6 chicken thighs
2 large chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 medium onion, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
2 bay leaves
10 cups water or chicken stock
1/4 cup flour
salt and pepper to taste

INGREDIENTS FOR THE DUMPLINGS (SINGLE BATCH)
2 cups self-rising flour
6 tablespoons butter, melted
3/4 cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
pinch of salt
pepper to taste (I use a lot but it’s really a personal preference)

INSTRUCTIONS
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a large dutch oven or heavy stockpot over medium-high heat. Generously season the chicken with salt and pepper. Place a few pieces into the pot and sear on both sides. Remove to a plate and continue searing the chicken a few at a time until all are seared.

Add the vegetables to the pot and cook for 4-5 minutes over medium heat. Return the chicken and its juices to the pot along with the bay leaves. With a wooden spoon, scrape all the goodies off the bottom of the pot. Add the chicken stock or water, bring to a boil then cover with a lid, reduce the heat and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.

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To thicken the stew before adding the dumplings, mix 1/4 flour with two cups of the stock. Whisk vigorously until the flour is dissolved into the stock. Pour slowly back into the stock continuously whisking. Simmer for 8-10 minutes stirring frequently. If any small clumps of flour were remaining they should dissolve during this time. Check for seasoning and adjust as desired.

INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE DUMPLINGS
In a large bowl thoroughly combine all ingredients until a dough ball is formed. Pinch off dough in quarter-sized pieces, lightly press together, and drop into the boiling stock. Cover with a lid and simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes. Do not lift the lid. Some people roll out the dough into a thin layer and slice into rectangles. That’s too much work for me. I prefer the “rustic” method.

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Because we ended up with several for dinner, I ended up making 3 batches of dumplings. When one batch was ready I removed them to a large bowl and added the next batch. When all three batches were finished I combined everything together and served with fresh parsley sprinkled over the bowls.

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