Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I Cook Too!

*completely unrelated to this post, I just thought it was funny he climbed up there*

I haven't done a cooking post in a while so I thought I'd throw one out there.  If you don't cook, feel free to ignore this!  Though I could never see myself sewing as a job, I could definitely be a cook.  I adore making people food.  It makes me very, very happy--so long as someone else is taking care of my kids while I do it!  Today is all about Cheater Chicken and Dumplings.  You can cheat this recipe in more ways than I did and I will try to let you know other short cuts as I go along.  Ready?  Here's the recipe (in all fairness, this is a modified Emeril recipe):

  • 4 BONE IN chicken breasts you can use a whole chicken, but I don't like dark meat
    • Cheater tip, use a whole precooked rotisserie chicken
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 cups chicken stock or broth
    • If you are cheating and using a rotisserie chicken, pony up and buy stock, it makes a difference
    • I keep an additional cup on hand if I'm making extra dumplings (so 7 cups total)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt (eyeball it)
  • 1 teaspoon of pepper (eyeball it)
  • 2 large onions diced
    • If you want to cheat, you can buy precut onions at most stores.  It's about 1 1/2 cups of onions
  • 1 stick of butter--yes, it MUST be real butter.  Salted or unsalted is up to you, I use salted
  • 1/2 cup of flour
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup of white wine.  I just guess so my amount may be up to 1/3
  • 4 carrots diced.  I finely dice these because none of the boys in my house will eat a veggie if it's a big chunk, but feel free to cut carrot rounds. 
  • 3 stalks of celery, don't be afraid to use the leafy tops, they have lots of flavor!
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme OR 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of heavy cream or half and half.  Once more, I just eye ball it.
    • If you want to save some fat grams, they make fat free half and half
  • 5 to 8 Pillsbury HOMESTYLE biscuits cut into 6 pie wedges each = 30 to 48 dumplings.  The number depends on how many dumplings you want.  5 biscuits is plenty, but we like lots of carbs in this house! 
    • Please note, if using 8, you must cook the dumplings in two batches and use the extra cup of stock I mentioned above
  • 1 cup peas: optional, my boys won't eat them so I don't put them in
If you're starting with raw chicken:
Place 1 diced onion, 6 cups of stock, bay leaves, salt, pepper, and chicken breasts in a large pot.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cook 45 minutes to 1 hour--they're usually done at 45 for me.  Strain and reserve the broth!!!!  Lay the chicken breasts out to cool a bit, those bad boys are hot!

If you're starting with cooked chicken:
Melt 1 stick of butter over medium heat in a large pot (think 6 quarts or more).  Once melted, whisk in flour and continue occasionally whisking for 3-5 minutes so flour is a toasty almond color.  If you want a super duper thick soup, you can add a bit more flour.  Be warned, flour to butter ratios should be about equal.  If you add too much flour, it won't be absorbed by the butter and your soup will be clumpy and taste like flour--yuck!  So the moral is, if you add more flour, add the same amount additional butter.  Next, whisk in the wine and chicken stock (*the reserved chicken stock if you're starting with raw chicken). 

*my store was out of fresh thyme*
Let me introduce you to my new best friend, mini wine bottles!  I don't drink white wine and I hate buying and opening a whole bottle for maybe one recipe a week.  So last week I slapped myself on the forehead and realized I could buy a 4 pack of mini bottles and have much less waste and screw on top for the same price as a full bottle! 

If you're cheating with a rotisserie chicken, you may want to add 5 cups of stock and see how it looks--if it looks thicker than you'd like your soup, add more stock.  During the cooking process of the raw chicken, the stock reduces so you don't end up with a full 6 cups.  Bring to a boil and let thicken, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Add the thyme, carrots, the remaining onion, and the celery.  Cook 15 minutes. 

*just stab the fork in and pull down like a lever*
While the veggies are cooking, shred the chicken.  I use a fork to do this because, duh, it's hot! You can dice the chicken if you prefer, it would be faster.  This process takes me a while because I can't stand all those little vein things or discolored parts in chicken.  Yucky!  Drives my husband nuts.  I have to trim chicken within an inch of its life before I can eat it......well, I guess it's already given it's life, but you get my point.  Add shredded or diced chicken, optional peas, and the heavy cream or half and half.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

*dumplings before*
Lower your heat just a tad to medium low and add the 5 cut up biscuits.  Cover the pot and let them cook 15 minutes.  Inevitably, I have some stuff stick to the bottom of my pot at this stage, it's no biggie.  There is a good deal more solids than liquids in this so the chicken sinks to the bottom and sticks some.  I do lower my heat, but my cast iron pot is smokin' hot by this point on almost any heat level.  *Sigh*  I miss my gas oven.

*dumplings after*
If you want more dumplings, you will have to removed some of the cooked dumplings before you cook the remaining biscuits.  I usually do this by serving  up my family's dinner, adding the remaining biscuits and an extra cup of stock and setting the timer to finish cooking the dumplings while we eat. 

*I took a few bites before I remembered to take a picture*

Voila!  Chicken and dumplings!  I guess I should mention that the reason I use the biscuits is that I hate baking.  All that measuring really stinks--I prefer to guesstimate!  Yes, I consider making raw dough baking.


Leslie said...

this looks so yummy... thanks for sharing

Unknown said...

Ha! Measuring when you are baking??? What is that? I don't unless I am planning on posting the recipe.

Thanks for sharing your recipe!

AllieKatMom said...

Yummy! I love to cook too. I have been trying lots of new recipes since going vegetarian. Let me know if you come across any good ones that dont have meat :)

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