Sunday, February 12, 2012

Chicken and Dumplings with Chef Seth

It's not everyday that you get to have a chef assist you in the kitchen.  I am fortunate enough to have one who lives in my very own house. Seth (my adorable almost four year old) is obsessed with all things "costume".  When he's not in the kitchen helping me whip up some delicious food, he can be found disguised as various animals, super heroes or scary monsters.

When the weather turned cold last week, I craved some comfort food.  Nothing screams cold weather food like homemade chicken and dumplings.  I've made chicken and dumplings almost every way imaginable.  With veggies. No veggies. Pre-made biscuits. Bisquick dumplings.  You name it.  However, much to my surprise, I had never made dumplings from a dough. 

My history with dough is not a pretty one. I love making dough. I love eating dough.  (Confession, I sometimes make a bit of raw dough just to snack on. Is that weird??) But the look and consistency of my dough are not always perfect. Not even close to perfect. So, imagine my hesitation.
But with my eager little chef by my side, I was ready to attempt it. 

I found a basic dumpling recipe on Pinterest and went from there.

Chef Seth mixed the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, and salt) in a large bowl.  To that add the melted butter, milk and chicken broth and combine.  This is where the "perfect" consistency is important.  If the dough seems crumbly and dry, add more liquid.  If it seems too wet and sticky, add more flour.

Once the dough is at its perfect "not-too-sticky/not-too-dry" state, it is ready to be rolled.  Make sure the surface and rolling pin are dusted with enough flour as the dough might stick.  (Plus, the extra flour helps thicken the dish.) Place the dough on the floured surface and begin to roll out like you would if you were making a pie crust. 

When the dough is rolled, it is time to cut.  Chef Seth found it easiest to use a pizza cutter to cut the dumplings, until his arm tired out and I had to take over.  Cut the dumplings into similarly sized shapes to ensure an even cooking time. (To protect our countertops, I slid a cutting board under the dough.)

One day prior to this, I had poached five pounds of delicious, local chicken breast tenders.  When I was ready to cook the chicken and dumplings, I cubed about one pound of the cooked meat. It was placed in a pot of broth and allowed to come to a gentle boil while my little chef and I made the dumplings. (Sorry, I didn't write down the exact amount of broth.  If I were guessing it was about 6-8 cups. It was actually my poaching liquid from the day before.)

The dumplings were then put into the boiling broth carefully, one at a time.  Once they were all in, a lid was placed on top and they simmered for about 15 minutes.  And, viola!  It's done!

Normally, I would put some fresh parsley on the top to break up the bland color scheme going on, but there was none to be found.

I hope you all enjoy it as much as we did!

Chicken and Dumplings

2 cups all-purpose flour (plus more for flouring surface and rolling pin)
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
2 TBSP melted butter
½ cup milk
1/2 cup chicken broth

1 pound pre-cooked chicken
6-8 cups chicken broth

Combine dry ingredients.  Add butter, milk and broth and mix until consistency of pie dough.  Generously flour surface and rolling pin.  Roll dough as you would a pie crust.  Cut into dumpling shapes. 

Add the dumplings one by one to gently boiling broth and chicken chunks. Cover and allow to simmer for 15 minutes or until dumplings are cooked through. 

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