Last Friday Houston had its share of frozen winter. The weather man had predicted one to two inches of snow! Imagine that, snow doesn’t usually come to Houston but once every four years or so. So most of the kids in Houston were very excited about the snow prediction. Alas, instead of snow, we got sleet and freezing rain. Ice covered bridges and our freeways; unaccustomed drivers slid their cars toward the unknown car wreck bills, in addition to the increased blood pressure by the suspense of watching it happen to them. The good thing was, it did not last long. It lasted only a day, and the next day, the weather went back to normal, for Houston that was.
So I was stuck at home, which gave me some time to clean up my so called study. Then it also gave me plenty of time to think about what to eat for dinner. I remembered that my BFF Elly and I had discussed about PW’s Chicken and Dumplings. We both said that it looks really good from the picture, and we asked each other if we had made it. We both said no, and we both said to each other, “If you make it, let me know how it tastes!” I said it to myself that Friday, this is a perfect meal for tonight!
So I did a quick mind-check to see if I had everything I needed. A whole chicken – I did have a whole chicken in the freezer somewhere, but did not feel like cooking a whole chicken, so I dug out a split chicken instead. Then, the rest of the ingredients? Carrots, celery, onion, parsley, butter, all purpose flour, yellow corn meal, kosher salt, pepper, half and half, baking powder, ground thyme, turmeric, and olive oil. PW’s recipe asked for apple cider, and I didn’t have that, but I had apple juice, so I used that instead. Then, PW’s recipe also asked for heavy cream, but I had a box of whipping cream already opened, so I used that instead. So, more or less, these were the ingredients to make the Chicken and Dumplings.
So while the chicken was thawing in a pot of water, I was reading the comments on both PW’s site and Tasty Kitchen. You know, this is where I learn tidbits of what to do and what not to do. Oh my! PW was slammed by several Southerners who claimed that this is not dumplings at all! To some Southerners, dumplings are made by rolling out a dough, cutting it into wide strips and cooking them in soup. They even dragged Paula Deen’s name into it and had a link to her Chicken and Dumplings recipe! Then they also added that what PW called dumplings were those of Matzo Balls! Then, some other Southerners, they were with PW – they claimed that those rolled out and cut out dough was called noodles! Ha!! Dumpling war in the foodies cyberspace! What a world we live in nowadays!
And me? A Chinese-Indonesian turned American – I had no clue what “dumpling” is supposed to look like. To me, dumpling means stuffed meat or veggies, wrapped and sealed in thin dough, the Chinese dumplings! These so called dumplings by Americans was nothing but dough! Not real dumplings! This got me to look it up in the dictionary, which translates “dumpling” into “A piece of dough, sometimes filled, that is cooked in liquid such as water or soup.” Oh, and I learned something new too. The third definition was “A short, chubby creature.” That got me a chuckle too! :) Not that I know a “short, chubby creature.”
So when in doubt about all the correctness of these food names, I went to my Southerner Hubby, who promptly said, the dumpling he knows was the one being drop by the spoonful into the soup. I got really tickled by these readers of PW - how fierce-full they defended their “dumplings.”
Okay, back to my kitchen. By this time, the chicken was thawed and ready to be cut up. Now, if I have to redo it again, I would use a whole chicken. The leftovers were really great, too bad there was barely a single serving left!
Then I salted and peppered the chicken pieces.
And seasoned the other side as well.
Then I poured some all purpose flour onto a plate…
And plopped one of the chicken pieces on top of the flour mound.
I dredged the chicken with flour, until all sides of the chicken were covered, and continued with the rest of the chicken pieces.
Then all the veggies got chopped as well.
Oh, there was one more ingredient to this dish, chicken broth! I dug out 3 cups of the frozen, homemade chicken broth from the freezer and started thawing them in a pot.
Then, in another pot, I melted the butter. I think this is where I was supposed to use the olive oil – so I edited the recipe below from PW to include that step – the olive oil addition will surely help the browning of the chicken faster. See what happens when you follow a recipe to a tee? But I completely forgot about the olive oil until when I was cleaning up the kitchen. I looked at the bottle and said “huh?” What in the world was this olive oil doing here if the recipe did not specify when to use it? Not until today, when I was typing this post, I went back to PW’s step by step and found out when I was supposed to utilize the olive oil!
Once the butter melted, and the imaginary olive oil was heated up, I put the chicken pieces in the pot to brown.
Once one side was browned enough, I turned the chicken pieces over to brown the other side. I did not worry about the chicken being cooked through, since they would be cooked in the pot.
See how delicious they looked? At that time, I had to fight this strong urge to nibble at the chicken! You should have been in my kitchen too, the fragrance of the fried chicken was overwhelmingly filling up my senses. I had to keep slapping my hand away from those chickens!!!
Finally, when all of the chicken pieces were browned, I dumped the veggies into the same pot.
Stirred them around and let them cook for about 3-4 minutes.
Then I put a splash or two of ground thyme into the pot…
As well as a couple of dashes of turmeric into the pot…
Added the chicken broth…
Apple juice and stirred it all around once more…
Added the chicken on top, covered the pot, and simmered it for 20 minutes.
While the chicken was simmering, I added all purpose flour into a sifter.
Sifted these into a medium mixing bowl, and added salt.
Then I poured the half and half into the dry mix.
Stirred them up…
Until I got all of them mixed up. Here, my dough was overly wet – if you compare the picture with PW’s. But, I have to let you know that it still came out good.
After 20 minutes, I opened up the lid of the pot….
And lifted the chicken out of the pot, and started shredding the meat off the bones.
Then I dumped the chicken meat back into the pot – I think I also added more water to the pot at this time, since the broth barely covered the veggies and the chicken.
Then I added the whipping cream into the pot…
Stirred it up…
Then I added the dough into the pot by the spoonful.
Drop by drop, until I used all of the dough up. It really was crowded in the pot by then. I let it continue simmering for about 10 minutes, and checked on it again.
The top part of the dumplings that did not get covered with broth were still looking raw, so I turned them over one by one and made sure they were cooked.
At the end? I got myself a bowlful of Chicken and Dumplings. For decoration purposes, I put a piece of parsley on top, as well as on Hubby’s bowl. Do you know what he said? “Manly man does not eat weed” and flicked off the parsley!
The verdict? Well, the broth was creamy, the chicken was tender, and the dumplings? They were tender, not rubbery, not soggy either. The taste reminded me a little bit like Hush Puppies, because of the corn meal in it.
A little close up of a split dumpling….
All I could say was… It was really good, and I couldn’t wait to pick up the phone and call Elly and tell her that she has to make it too!
Print recipe here.
Chicken and Dumplings
Recipe adapted from: Pioneer Woman
2 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
½ cups All-purpose Flour
1 whole Chicken, Cut Into Pieces (cut Up Fryer)
Salt And Pepper
½ cups Finely Diced Carrots
½ cups Finely Diced Celery
1 whole Medium Onion, Finely Diced
½ teaspoons Ground Thyme
¼ teaspoons Turmeric
6 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
½ cups Apple Cider
½ cups Heavy Cream
1-½ cup All-purpose Flour
½ cups Yellow Cornmeal
1 Tablespoon (heaping) Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1-½ cup Half-and-half
2 Tablespoons Minced Fresh Parsley (optional)
Salt As Needed
Sprinkle chicken pieces with salt and pepper, then dredge both sides in flour.
Melt butter in a pot over medium-high heat and add olive oil. In two batches, brown chicken on both sides and remove to a clean plate.
In the same pot, add diced onion, carrots, and celery. Stir and cook for 3 to 4 minutes over medium-low heat. Stir in ground thyme and turmeric, then pour in chicken broth and apple cider. Stir to combine, then add browned chicken. Cover pot and simmer for 20 minutes.
While chicken is simmering, make the dough for the dumplings: sift together all dry ingredients, then add half-and-half, stirring gently to combine. Set aside.
Remove chicken from pot and set aside on a plate. Use two forks to remove chicken from the bone. Shred, then add chicken to the pot. Pour heavy cream into the pot and stir to combine.
Drop tablespoons of dumpling dough into the simmering pot. Add minced parsley if using. Cover pot halfway and continue to simmer for 15 minutes. Check seasonings; add salt if needed; turn over dumplings if needed. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.
*Adapted from Gourmet Magazine