The weather has turned chilly again (not like the bomb cyclone on the East Coast, thank goodness!), and I've been craving a warm dinner for tonight. The other day, a recipe for chicken dumplings popped up on my timeline in one of those sped up cooking videos, which I love and find very soothing and calming. We haven't had chicken and dumplings in years; it's just not something I think about making, but it feels perfect on a windy, rainy day like today. It's not a difficult dish to make, but you really don't want to mess up a perfectly good stew with a bite of raw, tasteless dumpling dough, so you do need to make sure to get that part right. Also, for those of you who are vegetarian or even vegan, it is easy to leave out the chicken/chicken stock and make a rich vegetarian stew with the same dumpling recipe on top (to make it vegan, simply substitute the dairy with your choice of milk substitute (not rice milk, that stuff is like drinking lime juice) and maybe a bit of oil to "beef" up the dumpling).
I've adapted my recipe from The Pioneer Woman's recipe for Chicken and Dumplings. Ok, I usually don't like her recipes. They all seem like they're full of butter, cheese, cream, and processed lazy foods like rolls in a can, cake mixes, etc. Before you start yelling at me about how there's nothing wrong with using food short cuts, I get it. We all work, we're all short on time, and the last thing you want to do at the end of a long work day is to attempt to make something from scratch when you are physically and mentally done. I'm usually making dinner with a naked toddler clinging to my leg, I SO get it. BUT, there's a lot of value in making your own food. Sure, it takes more time and it's not as easy, but I guarantee you it will taste better, and you can save money. For example, in this recipe you need chicken (or vegetable) stock. It is so easy to make your own stock at home. Just save your veggie scraps like carrot peels, onion skins, celery butts, etc. over the week/s in the freezer in a freezer proof bag, throw in a chicken carcass after you've roasted a chicken, dump all of it on a baking sheet when you've got time, bake it a while, dump it in a pot with water and simmer for a few hours, season, and you've got homemade stock. You can portion out the stock in an ice tray or freezer safe storage containers and use when needed. When I worked in a kitchen, all good scraps were saved for stock, the rest got chucked in the compost bin. Nothing goes to waste (including this sprouted head of garlic)!
Anyway, back to the Pioneer Woman, she kind of drives me crazy and I'm not a super fan of her cooking, but I did adapt her Chicken and Dumplings recipe, so I guess that makes me a bit of a hypocrite.
Hypocrite Chicken Dumplings
1/2 c all purpose flour
6 large chicken thighs (you can also use a cut up whole chicken)
salt and pepper
3 carrots, small dice
1 c small dice celery
1 yellow onion, medium, small dice
3 medium zucchini, cut in half and sliced into half moons
4 medium red potatoes, scrubbed and cubed
large handful of kale, rough chop
3 large handfuls of baby spinach
a few branches of rosemary and thyme, minced
handful of chopped fresh parsley
6 c chicken stock
2 c all purpose flour
1 T baking powder
1 1/2 c whole milk (you can also use half & half for a richer dumpling)
1 t salt
Salt and pepper chicken and dredge in flour, making sure both sides are coated. Alternatively, you can add your salt and pepper to the flour and dredge chicken in the mixture.
Coat the bottom of a large stew pot with olive oil, bring to temperature, and brown chicken on both sides. Remove from pot and reserve on a plate.
Using the same pot (it's ok if there's lots of brown bits of skin and flour left), saute carrots, celery, onion, and fresh rosemary and thyme. Cook until onion and celery are translucent and starting to brown.
Pour in chicken stock, making sure to scrape up and incorporate all those good bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add reserved chicken, cover pot, and simmer on a medium low heat for approximately 20 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and no longer pink by the bone.
While the chicken is cooking, make your dumpling mix.
In a bowl, sift together flour and baking powder. Mix in salt and whole milk till the dough is relatively lump free and has come together. Set aside.
Once chicken is completely done, remove from pot, and shred into bite size pieces. Put chicken back into pot, along with potatoes,
zucchini, kale, and baby spinach. Simmer for a few more minutes with the lid on and then drop dumpling mixture on top of stew by large spoonfuls. Sprinkle with chopped parsley. Cover pot again and cook approximately 15-30 minutes. Check dumplings at 15 minutes, if they still look gooey and wet, cook for an additional 15 minutes until they are finished. Turn off heat and let sit for a few minutes. Serve in bowls.
Like most stews, this should be better the second day, so (depending on how many people are in your household) you'll get two meals out of it. See, thrifty!