Saturday, November 3, 2012

Cantwell-Style Chick'n and Dumplin's

 I won't lie -- this recipe takes a long time to make, but with planning and some help, you can make a meal of chick'n and dumplin's that your family will never forget. Sure, there are easier recipes out there, but we made this one up one weekend when we had to prepare a meal for a bunch of hungry Boy Scouts who were camping after a day of biking one-third of the way across Indiana. It was their second day of biking and it was cold. They eventually biked 190+ miles across the State of Indiana. We like to think our high-carb comfort food brought them a little bit of home while they were out on the "trail."

Chicken
1 (4-5 lb) whole chicken, neck and giblets removed
1 stalk celery with leaves
1/2 onion
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
 Water to cover chicken

A day in advance, or several hours ahead, prepare the chicken by placing all of the ingredients in a large stockpot. Be sure chicken is fully covered with water. Boil until chicken is completely cooked. Remove chicken from broth and place in a covered bowl in the refrigerator to cool. Strain broth and place in covered bowl and cool in refrigerator. Once cold, remove chicken from bones, shred meat and refrigerate until ready to use. Skim fat off chicken broth. Remove 8-9 cups of broth and place back into the stock pot and let it come to a rolling boil. (Freeze any leftover broth for another use.)

Dumplin's
1 1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
6 Tbsp. room-temperature butter
1 cup HOT chicken broth left over from cooking chicken
Extra flour (save any used flour on the counter for later)

In a small mixing bowl, mix flour and salt. Add butter (no need to blend). Add hot chicken broth and stir until dough starts to pull away from sides of the bowl. Place on a well-floured surface and pat out dough to about 1/8 inch. Cut dough into 1/2 inch squares using a pizza cutter. Make sure there is plenty of flour to avoid sticking to the surface. The dough will be quite soft in texture. Save the flour from the dumplin's and place in a small bowl (you will use this to thicken the dish later).

Drop half the dumplin's in the hot chicken broth. Cook for about 5 or 6 minutes (until they are firm, but not completely done. Remove with a slotted spoon into a small bowl. Add the other half of the dumplin's and cook for another 5 or 6 minutes. When they are firm, dump the first batch back into the chicken broth and add the chicken meat to the broth to heat. Simmer until dumplin's are done (about 15-20 minutes longer).

In the meantime, prepare veggies below:

2 stalks celery, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
1 onion, diced

In a large frying pan, melt 1 stick butter. Add veggies and saute' until tender (about 10 minutes). Add leftover flour from dumplin's (about 1/3 c.), 1 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. black pepper. Stir until well blended.

Dump the veggie-flour mixture into the pot of chicken and dumplin's and broth. Boil until thickened, stirring constantly to avoid burning the bottom of the pan. Add more broth if it is too thick. It should be a very thick "gravy" that clings to a spoon. Adjust seasoning.

Optional: add 1/2 to 1 cup of frozen peas and stir. Cook until peas are thawed. Keep warm until ready to serve.

Serve over mashed potatoes. Warm, comforting, and high carb, so don't eat too much, but enjoy this on a cold fall or winter's night!

QUICKER RECIPE:
If you don't want to boil a whole chicken and make homemade broth, you can use 1 1/2 pounds of chicken tenders (cut into chunks or leave whole if they are small) and boxed or canned chicken broth. If you do, the broth won't be quite as flavorful, but you can probably make chicken and dumplings in about 45 minutes or less. Saute' the chicken and vegetables together and put extra butter in the pan for a richer flavor. Also, you can add milk or half and half to the "gravy" to make it creamy. Experiment with the flavors and techniques. The key is the dumplings which can still be made the same way as above.

Makes 6-8 generous servings.

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