Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Chicken & Dumplins

Remember that rotisserie chicken from our chicken tortilla soup?  And I told you that I love rotisserie chicken because of all the things you can do with it??

Well now I'm going to share another one of those uses with you.

Whether you've purchased your chicken as a main course for your meal or to use the meat in a recipe, after you've picked all the meat off the bird DO NOT throw away the carcass!  (Btw, this also applies if you've roasted your own chicken.  Just fyi)

After you've pulled off all the meat, toss everything that's left (skin, bones, everything) into your dutch oven (I told you I love my dutch oven) or a large pot.  Fill the pot with enough water to cover the remains of your bird.  For reference, my dutch oven is 6 qt, and I fill it to about 2 inches from the top.

Now, as I'm sure you know, chicken broth is very bland.  Which is why it's good for upset tummies.

But we want flavorful, hearty stock.  So we're going to add a couple ribs of celery (it can be whole or chopped into large sections), some carrots (chopped into large pieces), a couple of cloves of garlic (smashed and skinned), and some onion.  Season liberally with salt and pepper.

If you don't have these things on hand to season your chicken stock, you can substitute with celery seed, garlic powder and onion powder.  If you are using spices instead of fresh vegetables, don't be afraid to use a heavy hand.  A sprinkle is not going to give you a very flavorful stock.  I'd recommend starting with 2 t. of each.  And don't forget to salt and pepper.

It's everyone into the pool.  Cook on high heat until it starts to boil.  Then reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer for about 8 hours.

Yes.  It takes a very long time to make good chicken stock.

However, as I'm usually using the rotisserie chicken for dinner, afterward I just throw everything together for my stock before I go to bed and let it simmer while I dream sweet dreams of homemade chicken and dumplins.

In the morning, you have lovely chicken stock for use in your recipes.

Let it cool.  Then run it through a strainer into a large bowl or pitcher.    If, like me, you have a colander with large holes in it,  you can put a piece of cheesecloth or a paper towel in the bottom of your colander to strain out all the chicken bits and veggies.

You can use it right away, store it in the fridge in an air tight container (up to a week), or freeze it in freezer safe containers for up to 6 months.

As I spent the night dreaming of chicken and dumplins, I was going to use some of my stock right away.

Chicken & Dumplins:
What you'll need:
3 cups of chicken stock
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 t baking powder
3 T cold butter
1 cup milk
extra flour for rolling out dough
cooked shredded chicken

Heat your chicken stock in a dutch oven or large pot on high heat.  While this is working up to a boil, you're going to make your dough.  (Be sure to taste your chicken stock.  You can add more herbs and spices at this point to season it.)

In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking soda and a LARGE pinch of salt.  Slice your butter into small pieces.  Cut butter into flour mixture until it starts to resemble a coarse meal.  Pour your milk into the flour mixture; work it with a fork until all flour is incorporated into dough.  The dough will be very wet and sticky.

Divide dough into half and roll out each portion on a HEAVILY floured surface.  Don't be afraid to overdo on the flour.  Extra flour on your dumplins is good because it'll thicken up your stock.  Roll your dough to about 1/8 inch thickness (or thicker if you like a nice thick noodle) Slice your dough however you wish.  I tend to do 3x3 just because that's how my grandma always did it.

Drop pieces into boiling broth, stirring occasionally so your dumplins don't stick together. 

Once you've added all your dumplins, reduce heat to low and let it cook for just a couple of minutes to make sure your dumplins cook through.  This is the point where you add in your chicken.  Then remove from heat.  As it cools, your stock will thicken.

I like to serve mine with biscuits.

Because what chicken & dumplins needs is even more carbs.

Tips & Tricks:
You can season your chicken stock with whatever floats your chicken boat.  Basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, bay leaves (man I hate bay leaves).  The possibilities are endless.  You know what you like.

Opinions differ on how long to cook your stock.  Some people only do it for a couple of hours.  I'm a fan of low and slow.  In my experience, I get the best stock when I simmer on very low heat for an extended period of time.

Cutting in butter- I use a pastry blender, and let me tell you, it's a game changer.  Well worth the $10 investment.

My grandma used shortening instead of butter, but every time I even look at shortening, I imagine it building up in my arteries.  She also used water instead of milk, so if you have dairy allergies, you can easily sub water in your dough

Rolling out dough:
I hate, and I mean HATE, working with dough.  I've always hated having sticky stuff on my hands.  The trick is to spray your hands with cooking spray prior to picking up your dough.  I bought an oil mister you can fill whatever type of oil you prefer.  Love it.  Instead of paying $5 for a can of cooking spray, now I just fill my mister.

Another reason I hate working with dough is the clean up.  Oy the mess.  I bought a pastry mat.  Much easier.  You can keep everything on the mat, then just dump all the leftover flour into the sink.  In lieu of that, you can tape down wax paper.  Or you can say "Screw the mess! I'm going old school!" and roll out the dough on your counter top.

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