Well? What do you think of this week’s Food Challenge? I’m bringing up the last of the recipes for you to try in our Chicken and Dumplings Throw Down.
When I was younger, my mom made the best chicken and dumplings I had ever had but then, she always threw in dumplings into a lot of soups, too. I love dumplings. My hips adore dumplings. When asked to make the chicken and dumplings again, she did but it wasn’t the same ever again. She never wrote it down; she never found it in any cookbook she had, she just had made it up. Woe is me, I thought.
In my efforts later in life I thought about the chicken and dumplings meal I had had. I set out to re-create it in honor of my mom. At first I tried a recipe from Cracker Barrel Chicken and Dumplings. Not so good. I didn’t care for the taste and the dumplings were not of my childhood dreams. Next up, I tried another recipe from the southern gentleman himself, Mr. Emeril Lagasse. He shoots! He SCORES!! His is the absolutely best recipe I have ever had. And I have to think much of the wonderful taste comes from his spice and herb mixture, Original Essence. You can buy it in any grocery store in the spice isle or you can find the recipe on-line and make it yourself. Either way, it is a necessity to the wonderful taste of this recipe.
Because I’ve made this so many times, I’ve found some short cuts to use to make it go faster and I make note of it for you.
There are three parts to this recipe, the broth, the dumplings, and the sauce. We’ll start with the broth.
His recipe calls for one large roasting chicken around 5 pounds and then cut into pieces. I hate cutting up raw chicken so I don’t. I throw the whole bird into the pot with onions, broth and bay leaves. Bring it all to a boil and then simmer for about one hour or until it’s done. When it’s all done, I man handle the bird to get every last piece of meat off the bones. (Now, the day after Thanksgiving, you should have plenty of already delicious meat left over, so use that and call it Turkey and Dumplings! I have also, in a hurried pinch, used already cooked rotisserie chicken) Carefully, take the bird out of the broth. Strain the broth through a colander and reserve. Let the bird cool and then cut off the meat.
Skim whatever fat is off the broth using the ends of a paper towel. Set the broth aside.
While the bird is cooking you can prepare the dumplings and refrigerate until you’re ready to plop them into the sauce. His dumplings are herbed dumplings and you can use any combination of green herbs you’d like. I used fresh parsley and green onion tops. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, herbs, baking powder and salt. In a small sauce pan, combine the butter and milk and heat until butter is melted but don’t boil. Once that’s done, pour that mixture into the flour mixture and combine with a fork until it
just comes together. Have a cookie sheet handy. Drop by spoonfuls (I actually just grab a little bit and mold it in my fist. Call it rustic 🙂 )
Refrigerate these until ready to drop into steaming hot chicken sauce.
In a Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. You are about to make a roux which Mr. Lagasse is famous for using. Once it’s all melty, whisk in the flour and cook until the mixture turns a beautiful golden brown. It takes a few minutes.
Cook all of this until they are tender but not mushy. Add all the reserved chicken meat and the cream. In his recipe, he also adds peas but while I love peas, I do not like them in my chicken and dumplings so I omit this item. Season all of this with ground pepper and salt.
Place the dumplings on top of all this chickeny goodness. Cover and simmer until the dumplings are cooked through, about 15 minutes. I would love to show you a photo of the dumplings and the finished recipe but a few of my grandkids came over right then, and my photo shoot came to a standstill.
If you can’t find the Original Essence in the store or on-line, email me and I’ll send you the recipe. It’s really easy and comes together fast!
Here is the full recipe:
Chicken and Herbed Dumplings
- 1 large roasting chicken, 5 pounds, back removed and cut into 8 pieces
- 2 sweet onions, coarsely chopped
- 6 cups chicken broth or water (use broth!)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1.5 teaspoons salt
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/3 cup minced fresh soft herbs, such as parsley, tarragon and green onion tops
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons milk
- 7 tablespoons butter
- 2/3 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 2 teaspoons Essence
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (I’ve used dry and it still is great)
- 3 ribs celery, cut into 1/2 inch pieces on the diagonal
- 4 carrots, peeled and cut like the celery
- 1 large onion, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1/4 cup heavy cream or milk
- 1/2 cup frozen green peas, thawed
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
Cut chicken backs, necks and wing tips into 1 inch pieces. In a large pot, combine the chicken pieces, onions, chicken broth or water, bay leaves and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered, until the chicken is tender, 45 minutes to one hour. Remove the chicken pieces and set aside. Discard the chicken backs, necks, and wing tips. When the chicken pieces have cooled, remove the meat from the bones in chunks and set aside. Discard the skin and bones. Strain the broth and discard the solids. Using a spoon, skim the fat from the surface of the broth and discard fat. Set broth aside.
Prepare the dumplings. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, herbs, baking powder, and salt together. In a small saucepan over low heat, bring the butter and milk to a simmer. Add the butter and milk mixture to the dry ingredients, stirring with a fork until the mixture just comes together. Drop batter by spoonfuls onto a baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until ready to use.
In a Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring, until golden brown, 3 -4 minutes. When golden brown, whisk in the wine, reserved chicken broth, Essence, and thyme. Cook until sauce has thickened, about 5 minutes, then add the celery, carrots, and onion. Cook until the vegetables are tender-crisp, about 15 minutes. Add the reserved chicken meat, heavy cream, and if using, peas. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Place the dumplings on top of the chicken mixture. Cover and simmer until the dumplings are cooked through, about 15 minutes. Serve in large soup bowls, garnished with the parsley.
Makes four to six servings.