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The Misadventures of Mrs. B: Chicken and Dumplings

Cook. Writer. Wife. Daughter. Sister. Friend. Klutz.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Chicken and Dumplings




Last week, Rob and I went to Cracker Barrel for dinner one night.  Of course I got chicken and dumplings  because, well, that's what I just had to order.  I'd only had them once - in fact, I had only been to Cracker Barrel once before that night.  But it was good!

And I was inspired.

So I immediately decided to make my own pot of chicken and dumplings over the weekend.  And I did.

It helped that Rob had a couple of friends coming over who needed help with a wonky laptop, so I had guinea pigs...uh, I mean willing guests...to enjoy the fruits of my labor.  At least, I hoped so.

So I started with this:


Fresh out of the shower!


And put it in a great big enormous pot




 Hellllloooooo iiiiin theeeeeeere...


I then took these




And turned them into this



I took these




And turned them into this


 *sniff sniff*

I then grabbed a big old handful of fresh parsley and gave it a rough chop



I just L-O-V-E the smell of fresh parsley.  It's so fresh and it made me think of spring.  Ah, spring...how far away you are...

Moving on.

Into the pot all of my fresh ingredients went, along with 4 quarts of water, and...

Thyme...


 
Garlic powder...



And salt and pepper




I also added a few bay leaves but of course forgot to take a picture of them.  Sigh.  Will I ever learn?

**Aside: I'd like to say that the big, manly hands in those pictures up there are my husband's.  Alas, they are mine.  See how much I'm willing to reveal about myself for the sake of you readers? I have man hands and now you all know it.**

This all went on the stove to simmer for an hour.  Once that hour was up and an experimental bit of chicken was ripped from the breast and tasted, I decided that the chicken was quite tender and ready to be removed from the pot.

And this happened.


Ouch.  And I'm not just referring to the lack of a manicure, either.

Notice the difference in color between the two fingers? That would be a result of steam burning my index finger as I lifted the chicken from the pot.  But even though all of my instincts were screaming and pleading and begging me to drop that chicken and thus end the agony, I knew that I would probably end up splashing hot liquid all over myself as a result.  So I hung on like the culinary champ that I am.  And the burn wasn't all that bad...just enough to leave me in agony for the rest of the night.  No biggie.

Again, moving on.

The chicken was placed on a platter in order to cool.  After straining the veggies and herbs out of the broth, I was left with this...



Perfection.

Thus it was time to make the dumplings.

I combined two cups of flour, a tablespoon of baking powder, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt in a bowl and combined them.


I bet you didn't know that you'd just be looking a big pile of white stuff after that description...

I then added 1 1/2 cups of milk to the dry ingredients.  I used skim because it's what I had on hand.  I wonder what whole or low fat milk would have done...hmmm...




Once everything was all good and mixed, I covered the dough and let it sit for a while because that's what I was told to do a long time ago when it comes to dough.  The dough needs to rest in order for the gluten to...do...something.  So I let it rest.

I then divided up the dough into three parts and kneaded each portion lightly while adding more flour to make it a stiffer, rolling-pin consistency.  I then rolled each section out on my counter and cut squares out of it.


Look how neat and pretty!
It all went downhill from there, folks.

Why no pictures of rolled dough being cut into squares? If I told you that I just don't want to make sloppy cooks jealous with my super neat and totally un-messy rolling technique, would you believe me?

No?

How about if I told you that I made a huge mess and had so much dough stuck to my fingers I didn't want to pick up my camera to take a picture for fear of getting little crusty bits of dough jammed in its crevices forever?

Why did you believe the second reason so much more easily than the first?

Regardless, here's what I ended up with:


Mmmm.  Raw dumplings.

These little beauts were added one by one to the now-simmering broth and were allowed to simmer for, oh, forever.

Why? Because I had the darndest time making the broth into a gravy.  In the recipe I used as inspiration, I was led to believe that the flour from the dumplings would be enough to thicken the gravy.  I tell you, it just ain't so.  I think I had too much broth.

What did I do? I made a roux! And didn't take pictures!

Of course!

Suffice it to say, I ended up using probably the better part of a cup of flour to get my gravy.  It was all trial and error.  I didn't want to add too much at once so I first made the roux and cooked the flour, then added broth and mixed it all in, then added that to the dumplings.  No go.  Then I mixed up flour and water and threw that in.  Still no go.  Finally, third time was a charm and after adding my cut-up chicken back to the pot...ooooooh the results...




Oh...mah...Gawd.  It was soooooo good! I couldn't believe how well it turned out.  Leaving the dumplings to simmer in the broth for all the time it took me to figure out how to thicken the goshdarned thing up really worked well - they were tender and melted in my mouth.


 A close-up of the pepper-flecked goodness

Seriously amazing.  And all it took was one chicken, a lot of flour stuck all over my counter and a burned finger to make it happen.  And a lot of frustration as I struggled to make the gravy thicken up.  I swear, one day I will finally get the hang of that.

Chicken and Dumplings + Homemade Cornbread* = Good Eating.

The end.


*Why no cornbread pictures? Because I was in such a goshdarned hurry to get the chicken and dumplings done that I rushed through the process and threw it in the oven as quickly as I could just so we could eventually eat something.  But it turned out super great - according to Rob's friend Kim, it was better than her mother-in-law's.  From the sound of her voice, this is a good and surprising thing.  Oh, and I like my cornbread nice and sweet.  

 I know.  It's very un-Southern of me.



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4 Comments:

Blogger Delightful Dwelling said...

Yummm, it looks so good! I made chicken and dumplings for the first time ever a couple weeks ago, although I took the easy way out and cheated a bit. Yours looks so much better!

January 26, 2010 at 12:31 PM

 
Blogger Heather@ theherberfamily.blogspot.com said...

That looks so very very tasty!!

January 26, 2010 at 10:00 PM

 
Blogger Startup Wife said...

Ooh, that looks good. Perfect for all the rain we've been having here :)

January 27, 2010 at 4:02 PM

 
Blogger Lemonade Makin' Mama said...

You know what? I have never had chicken and dumplings before. EVHUH! Isn't that crazy?

January 28, 2010 at 1:24 AM

 

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