Friday, September 16, 2011

Comfort Food Series: Chicken and Dumplings

So to keep myself motivated to blog bi-weekly if not more frequently, I decided to do a series. And what better thing to write about than food, comfort food!

To start I wanted to do my favorite comfort food: chicken and dumplings. I think everyone has their own variation of this recipe and it's always "the way mom made it." So for me this is the way my mom made and my grandma taught her to make it. It's quite the legacy so you should feel honored that I am sharing this time-honored recipe with the public.

The way my mom cooks is by touch and feel and if she actually has a written recipe, the actual product is probably some variation. This recipe is one that is not written down or at least I sure have never seen a written copy. So again feel honored that you get a written copy!
Here it is my version of Chicken and Dumplings.

What you need:
Leftover whole chicken (still on bones) or 4-6 chicken thighs (raw or cooked)
3-4 cubes chicken bouillon
1 1/2-2 quarts water
shortening or fat from chicken broth (preferred)
warm chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste

What you do:
There are a few ways to make your broth.
1. Raw chicken: Cook chicken in water with bouillon in crock pot on low all day. Feel free to add your own extra spices such as salt, pepper, fresh or powdered onion. At the end of the day, remove all chicken (meat and bones) from broth and set aside. Run broth through fat separator or something that will remove any bits of bones/meat and allow broth to sink and fat to rise. Leave in fat separator or put in another container. Refrigerate overnight to allow broth sink and fat to harden. Meanwhile, let chicken cool enough to handle. Separate chicken from bones and store chicken. All this can be done same day if desired.
2. Leftover cooked chicken (my preferred method): Using leftover baked chicken, remove as much meat from the bones as possible without completely dismantling the chicken. Place chicken in large stock pot and cover with water. Add bouillon. Cover and let simmer for 2-3 hours until chicken and bones separate. Remove meat and bones from broth. Run broth through fat separator and remove usable meat from bones. No need to store broth if using right away.
*If you don't want the hassle of making your own broth simply buy ready to eat chicken and canned broth.

Now that you have both broth and chicken, get to work on the dumplings.
Boil broth in large pot. Broth needs to be a full rolling boil before adding dumplings.
Dump about 1 c. flour in a mixing bowl. (1 c. of flour makes about 6 servings of dumplings) Cut in shortening or chicken fat from top of broth and make a course crumble. (Using the chicken fat instead of shortening gives the dumplings more flavor and you use all of your resources). Add enough warm broth to form a soft, elastic dough. Dough will be fairly sticky. Put half of dough on lightly floured surface. Need very gently so that dough maintains elasticity and softness. Roll out thin into rectangle.

Using a butter knife, cut into 1" strips. 

Cut in half.
Gently take strip. Stretch slightly and drop into boiling pot of broth.
Repeat with other half of dough. Let dumplings cook 5-7 minutes in boiling broth.
To thicken your "sauce" take about 1/4 cup of broth from the pot and whisk in 1/4-1/2 c. flour depending on how thick you want it and how much liquid you have. Return mixture to pot and allow to cook over medium heat. Be careful not to keep on too high of heat or dumplings will stick. Cook until desired thickness.

And that's it. This was surprisingly harder to put on 'paper' than I anticipated. Chicken and dumplings is one of those recipes I grew up making and I've never really thought about how to actually do it. I really hope I haven't missed any steps!

*Next post: Hamburgers with homemade buns!

Friday, September 9, 2011

What sparked my 'Pinterest'

So I've been hearing about Pinterest. Several blogs I follow wrote about it and I finally had a friend sit me down and actually look at it. I was little skeptical, but then I just dove in and I love it.
I can find so much stuff! I've really been looking for Razorback baby room ideas, but they are few and far between. Other than that I'm just having fun looking through other people's pins.

Pinterest is a great way to get a lot of ideas in one place. It sure is better than me googling topics and hoping to find at least something worth while. I haven't pinned much but I've found great stuff already.

If for some reason you want to follow my pins click here. But I suggest giving me some more time before you really check me out!