It's cold, damp and rainy here in northern Illinois. I've been dealing with a couple days of minor drama. Nothing earth shaking but annoying nonetheless.
In addition, my sewing machine Beverly got a flat tire (broken belt) and I've been chasing around for a replacement.
I was about an hour away at a sewing machine repair place when I remembered there was a Cracker Barrel restaurant nearby. I was craving some comfort food and not wanting to engage in the work involved in creating such a dish. Darn it, I just wanted to feel warm and fuzzy without having to bust a sweat.
Here's the object my affection.
Chicken and dumplings. I love either type of dumplings but these are the rolled kind. I could even do without the pieces of chicken. Just the warm saucy goodness and the dumplings would have suited me fine.
Look at the green beans. Thanks heavens I don't have to drive south of the Mason Dixon to find some beans cooked and seasoned to perfection. Gotta love salt pork and lots of coarse ground black pepper.
I opted for the cole slaw although I'm mad about the has brown casserole. I was afraid of sending myself into starch overload, what with the biscuits sitting just out of camera range.
I know you're all drooling. If you're not, we need to check your pulse.
Just in case you feel like bustin' a sweat and making some for yourself, I'll give you my recipe. I use boneless chicken breasts and thighs because I hate the task of deboning chicken after it's been cooked. Since the bones and skin are not included in the stock pot we need to beef up the liquid with some broth.
CHICKEN AND DUMPLINGS
2 1/2 lbs. of fresh boneless chicken breasts and thighs
water or chicken stock
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, finely diced
1 celery rib, finely diced
salt and pepper
1 ½ c. flour
1 ½ c. chicken stock
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 stick butter
First cook the chicken by placing it in a Dutch oven. Add the chopped onion, diced carrot and celery, cover with chicken broth, bring to a boil, then simmer until done. Remove chicken and reserve stock. You're going to need about 5 cups of stock so add some water if necessary. Add 1 TBSP. butter to the stock. This will keep the dumplings from sticking together.
Mix the dumplings:
When stock has cooled to room temperature, mix flour, salt, baking powder and a pinch of poultry seasoning. Add room temperature stock a little at a time, mixing with a wooden spoon. These are dumplings, not noodles so you want the dough to be a little bit sticky.. You want the dough sticky, not a dry ball. The reason it's impossible to give an accurate measurement of stock to flour is that it's dependent several things including the humidity in your kitchen.
Flour your counter, and turn the dough out onto the counter. Generously flour the top of the dough and let it rest on the counter for fifteen minutes or so. With a very light touch, without using pressure, roll the dough out with a pin until it's about 1/4 of an inch thick. Let it rest for about thirty minutes, then cut it into strips about 1-1/2 inches wide and 3 inches long OR triangle, squares or whatever shape pleases you.
Add a pinch of poultry seasoning and butter to stock, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer. Add dumplings a few at at a time, and use a spoon to gently separate them and dunk them under the stock. Add more. The flour on the dumplings will thicken the stock as it cooks. Repeat this process till all the dumplings have been added, then cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Simmer very gently. Don't boil and don't stir or the light dumplings will turn to mush.
Slice the chicken into bite size pieces and serve with the dumplings and thickened sauce.