Two nights ago, I was sitting on my deck while the boys ate dinner, enjoying a nice glass of red, watching the sunset, hearing the birds sing, and absolutely loving the warmth of the day. There was just a small taste of spring in the air. I started to remember what it looks like at my house in the summer. A small glimpse of the coming months.
It's a different scene this night. As I drank my coffee this morning, I watched the snow fall, and this evening, the fire I've made is crackling away in the fireplace, I'm enjoying another glass of red, Pride and Prejudice is on the TV, and the smell of my homemade chicken stock is filling the house.
Which brings me to my reason for posting.
With cold weather here yet again, I've been craving some warm food. Mainly, Chicken and Dumplings. Now, all my life, I've never really cared for the dish. I've always thought it to be congealed, and the dumplings mushy or slimy. It wasn't until I tried my friend Kim's recipe for chicken and dumplings that I found I really liked it. With this recipe, it's more like a thick chicken stew.
And to get a head start (I'm actually making them for lunch tomorrow), I wanted to make my chicken stock, since it's the base of the recipe.
Here's what I did...
Took a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken (whole), put it in a heavy dutch oven, covered with water, and set it to boil on the stove. As the water was heating up, I added two sliced carrots, sliced onion, celery, a few sprigs of rosemary and thyme and about 1 teaspoon of herbs de provence. I let this concoction simmer for at least 2 hours.
As I type, the stove is off, the chicken has been removed to a cutting board to cool and the broth is also cooling. What I'll do in a bit is strain the broth, so I'm just left with a simple clear liquid, pull the meat (the nice pieces anyway) from the bone and place back in the broth, cover and refrigerate until tomorrow morning.
There's a good start for several uses. A nice chicken broth. Even without the meat, you've got a great start for chicken noodle or chicken and vegetable soup, chicken tortilla soup, or whatever you need a good chicken broth for. And if you picked up a rotisserie chicken, or happen to make roasted chicken for dinner, just use the bones and whatever pieces you didn't eat to make your broth with.
On to the dumplings. Here's the basic recipe for what I'll make...
In a heavy pot, melt about 2 tablespoons butter (or olive oil) and sauté diced carrots, onions, garlic, and celery until soft and fragrant. Add about 1/3 cup of the chicken broth and 3 to 4 tablespoons of flour to make a thick paste. Slowly add more broth, a little at a time, until gone. You can also keep adding more flour to thicken a bit, if desired. Depending on how much you want to make, you may need to add more chicken broth (store bought) if you have some. Season with tarragon. Add the shredded chicken to broth. Slow cook for 1 to 2 hours. Bring to a boil, drop in 1 bag wide egg noodles (dumpling size) and cook for 10-12 minutes. Turn back to low. Add 1 can evaporated milk, or if you really want to go for it, use 1 1/2 cups half and half. Cook to a slow boil again and serve, or simmer until ready to serve.
You really can't mess this up, and you can add or take away ingredients depending on what you desire. As you can see, it turns out more like a thick chicken stew. I'm going to serve it with some garlic bread. My mother in law is coming over for lunch tomorrow, so I wanted to serve something really good.