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May 28, 2007

Chicken and Dumplings

Ingredients:
1 stewing or fryer chicken
1 diced carrot
1 diced potato
parsley
salt
pepper
garlic powder (not garlic salt, otherwise stew might be too salty)
1 8 oz package wide egg noodles

Stew chicken in seasoned water until tender (seasonings being the parsley, salt, pepper, garlic powder - and any other flavorings you like. For instance, I sometimes chunk up onions, turnips, celery, broccoli stems or whatever might be left overs that I want to use up - they all add great flavor!). You'll want to slow stew the chicken and broth for a number of hours, until chicken practically falls off the bones. Using a slow cooker, set on its lowest setting, while you're away at work all day works great!

Remove, cool and debone the chicken, but first: stick the entire pot of stew broth (veggies and all!) into the refrigerator or freezer, to quick-cool, so it'll be easier to skim later. Then return to deboning the chicken. Deboning is the process of picking the meat from the bones, and then tearing or cutting into bite-sized pieces. Discard all bones and cartilage. I personally remove and discard all skin, too.

Next, skim the broth (it should be sufficiently chilled now). Doing a very thorough job of this is important, especially if you stewed the bird with the skin on. You will want to get rid of all that fat and bits of skin, as well as the veggies and large pieces of herbs, so that you'll be left with as clear a broth as possible. If the broth was chilled sufficiently, all the fat and skin will have congealed on the surface, making it easy to simply scoop off carefully with a spoon. If not cooled sufficiently, skimming can still be done but is a bit trickier. Try using a pastry brush (wiping the surface gently, and rinsing the brush often), or even using the leafy part of a celery stalk or a lettuce leaf as a brush. If the broth still looks "murky" or you still see bits floating about, you can strain through a fine mesh strainer as the final step.

Next, add the chicken, diced carrot and diced potato to the broth. If you like other veggies in this dish, feel free to add whatever you like. Cook until tender. Lastly: add the noodles and cook only until about 1/2 way soft.

While the noodles are getting 1/2 done, prepare the dumplings:
2 cups (16 oz.) All Purpose Baking Mix
2/3 cup milk
Mix together just long enough to blend well, don't over work. Form the dumplings by slightly overfilling a large Tablespoon and then dropping into the broth.

Important: Here are the Tricks to making Excellent Dumplings:
1. Drop in so that they do not touch
2. Work quickly so that the entire batch of dumplings will remain uncovered as little as possible
3. Once all the dumplings are in, cover with a tight fitting lid, turn heat down to simmer, and ...
4. DO NOT LIFT THAT LID!! Not for anything! For at least a full 15 minutes!!!
(Honest - not lifting the lid is the secret!)

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