The kitchen partner and I are returning from an extended Valentine’s Day weekend to the North Shore today. Between the surgeries and c-sections in our friends and families lives and the overtime and blog posts in our own, we decided it was time to get away. It’s hard to be supportive if you’re so stressed out on your own. The kitchen partner could see how bogged down I was and did the right thing. His strict instructions: Turn off your phone, log out of the blog and rest. Just rest.
After a weekend of my snoring, I think he wished he’d been more specific.
I slept 12 hours each night plus a nap on Friday and Saturday. Watched two gorgeous sunrises over Lake Superior, read most of “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien, watched some Polar Bear Plungers (yikes!) and fell in love with a new hat. A new stocking cap has been on my list all season and I finally found one that doesn’t make my melon look like a cone head or a small toddler. I’m thoroughly excited with the result:
And now I’m trying to carry all those rested and fuzzy new hat feelings into Monday. Back to work and back home to an empty refrigerator. It can mean only one thing: Dumplings! I’ve already shared my Chicken Dumpling Soup and my Green Bean Dumpling Soup, but tonight there was just room for chicken and dumplings. No soup involved. My mother-in-law makes chicken and dumplings covered in cream of chicken soup that has been known to incite kitchen table riots. It’s simple but incredibly fulfilling on a cold winter day. Tonight I tried to recreate the dish without the condensed canned soup. Nailed it on the creamy covered dumplings with chunks of shredded local chicken, but I may have to adjust the tastes to fit the canned version. It’s probably the lack of preservatives and sodium and because I added parmesan cheese for good measure. (Did you see the hat? I can do anything with this hat. Especially when it comes to parmesan!)
Just finished the putting away the supper dishes and writing this post–all with my new hat on.
This week is off to a great start!
Chicken and DumplingsÂ
For the Chicken
1 3-4 pound whole boiler-fryer chicken
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 carrot, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, diced
6 cups water
1-2 Tbsp. dried assorted spices (try parsley, oregano, rosemary and sage)
For the dumplings
3 C. all-purpose flour
1 C. skim milk
2 tsp. salt (optional)
For the sauce
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. flour
1/2 C. chicken broth, reserved from cooking chicken (plus 1-2 Tbsp. more)
1/2 C. half and half
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 C. finely grated parmesan cheese
1. Make the chicken: Place chicken in a large stock pot with water and spices. Bring to a boil and cook until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165Â° and juices run clear. Cooking time for a fresh chicken is about 35-45 minutes, for a frozen chicken 75-90 minutes. Remove from heat and allow chicken and stock to cool slightly. Remove chicken from pot and transfer to a cutting board. Remove 1/2 cup of stock for the sauce and leave the rest in the pot for the dumplings.
2. About 20 minutes before chicken is finished cooking, make the dumplings. Combine flours, eggs and milk in a small mixing bowl. Mix with a fork until dough is evenly moist (it will be sticky!). Set aside and allow to rest for 4-5 minutes. When stock is simmering, drop small spoonfuls of dough into the pot. When all dumplings are in the pot, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and cook 12-15 minutes or until dumplings are cooked through. (Dough will be firm but not sticky on the inside).
3. While the dumplings are cooking, gently remove chicken from the bone, shredding into large 1-2â€³ pieces. Set aside. Remove the dumplings from the stock with a slotted spoon. You can allow the stock to cool and freeze it for later use.
4. Make the sauce: Melt the butter in a 1 quart sauce pan over low heat. Add in the flour and stir until golden brown and bubbling. Carefully add in stock and half and half over low heat; avoid scorching the half and half. While stirring constantly, bring liquids to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in cayenne pepper and parmesan until melted. If the sauce seems too thick, add extraÂ stock, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it reaches the desired consistency.
5. Combine chicken, dumplings, and sauce in a large bowl. Toss to evenly coat. Serve warm.