Comforting Chicken and Dumplings
There are so many recipes that I have cooked and served my family since, well…since I’ve had a family to serve. In the mid 90’s when I was a new mother, my meals were a mixture of convenience foods (Kraft Dinner and wieners…cough, cough) and interesting experiments (dijon crusted baked pork chops) which my son and husband ate with very few complaints. Most of our meals were made at the end of a long day of university, requiring them to be easy and quick to prepare. Most importantly, they were low budget meals. As a university student, I was luckier than most because my family was able to give me farm raised cuts of beef and chicken. We ate a lot of overcooked onion soup mix covered beef roasts but the farm chickens were our favourite.
Every fall, our farm neighbour who sold eggs would butcher her laying hens and give them to my mom. They were tough and not really any good for regular roasting or frying, but they were perfect to can in quart jars. I don’t think my mom ever followed any preserving guidelines, such as canning meat and other low acid ingredients using a pressure canner, but none of us ever died either. I did get a lot of funny comments from my room mates and their friends about how grotesque the meat, bones, and jellied juices looked all jammed into the quart jars.
These chickens-in-a-jar meals were a lifesaver for me. All I had to do was dump the chicken and juices from the jar into a large pot, add vegetables, chicken bouillon, water, and boil it. When everything was cooked I would add a bit of flour to some water and thicken the gravy. Then came the best part…making the dumplings. I suppose if I had to guess I would say these dumplings are Hungarian in origin because the recipe came from my Hungarian grandma. I am not entirely sure, however, because she loved to collect recipes from all over, including the daily paper. She was the first person to ever really make me think about cooking and exploring food. I miss her so. Every time I make this dish and her dumplings, I think of her.
- 2-3 cups left over chicken; shredded
- 3 medium carrots; cut into coins
- 1 onion; diced
- 1 tbsp oil (olive, canola, avocado)
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 cup green beans; chopped
- 3 medium potatoes; peeled and diced
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 2 tbsp fresh thyme
- leftover chicken gravy OR chicken bouillon (I used Better Than Bouillon because it’s so much tastier than the dry packets)
- salt and pepper
Add diced onion and oil to a large pot and sauté until the onion becomes translucent. Add carrots, beans, chicken, potatoes, herbs, and gravy or bouillon. Add enough water to cover and boil on med – high heat until potatoes are slightly soft. Add peas then add more water if necessary, making sure there is enough liquid to cover the ingredients. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Bring back to a slow simmer and slightly thicken the gravy with a slurry. Be sure to give the stew a good stir, and add dumplings (recipe below), leaving space in between each dumpling. Cover and cook 10-12 minutes as directed below.
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp dried parsley
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 3/4 cup milk
Mix dry ingredients and then add milk just before you are ready to drop them into the stew. Carefully drop into slightly simmering stew by round 1/2 cup portions. Cover and cook for 10-12 minutes. The secret to making these dumplings light and fluffy is not to peek!