Monday, November 7, 2011

Chicken & Dumplings

I decided to try my hand at chicken and dumplings. It fits all my major requirements for a go to meal. It's was super easy, fast, cheap and delicious. I buy chicken breasts in the bulk packages, put them in individual baggies and freeze them. They are cheap and when all else fails they make for a healthy dinner. However, chicken breasts are boring. So I find myself always looking for a halfway decent way to cook chicken breasts. Now, I'm aware proper chicken and dumplings requires that you cook a whole chicken, but this is the healthier weeknight version.

I started with a chopped onion, several stalks of chopped celery, chopped carrots and garlic. I confess all I had on hand were baby carrots, and for the record they were an annoying thing to chop. When I cook I freeze leftover chopped onion and other freezable veggies. In this case I already had chopped onion and celery. I find that Rachel Ray's dishes would be 30 minutes if it weren't for all the ingredients that have to be chopped. Maybe she secretly chops and freezes her onions and celery ahead of time too!

From here I added 8 cups of chicken broth. I use Better Than Bouillon. It's cheaper than boxed chicken broth and more flavorful than bouillon cubes. Plus, I find that it has enough salt that recipes with it don't require much if any added salt. If you use regular chicken broth for this, you will likely need salt. In the broth veggie mix I added 2 large chicken breasts, and boiled them. Once shredded, they came to about 5 cups of shredded chicken.

I added my chicken to the pot, and then I added a quarter cup of Sherry for an added zing and half a cup of fat free half and half. Certainly real half and half is great on special occasions, but as I said this is the weeknight version. I then added a quarter teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon thyme and 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning.

Somewhere in this process, I did make dumplings as well. See the aforementioned pierogie dough for the recipe in a previous blog. Two cups flour, one teaspoon salt, one egg and water. I debated on rolling this out, but opted for just pulling pieces of dough and plopping them into the soup. Why make a bigger mess?

So Chicken and Dumplings absolutely lends itself to a lot of butter and or a roux of flour and butter. However, I opted to add about 4 tablespoons of cornstarch to thicken up the "gravy" a bit.

The Rooster informed me as I started chopping that he didn't like chicken and dumplings, but in the end he ate two bowls. I take this to mean he liked my chicken and dumplings. It was a success!

Chicken & Dumplings:
1 Medium Onion Chopped
2 Celery Stalks Chopped
Half Cup Chopped Carrot
2 Garlic Cloves Chopped
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil to Cook Veggies
5 Cups Shredded Chicken / Two Large Chicken Breasts
8 Cups Chicken Broth
1/4 Cup Sherry
1/2 Cup Half and Half (Fat Free Works Fine)
1/4 Teaspoon Pepper
1 Teaspoon Thyme
1 Teaspoon Poultry Seasoning
4 Tablespoons Cornstarch

2 Cups Flour
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Egg

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