There is seriously nothing quite like your favorite comfort food. It sticks to the ribs, makes you feel warm and fuzzy, and it’s just plain good. In our family, my chicken and dumplings are the official comfort food. The recipe is old and my recipe card has been through a lot. It might be time to write it down again.
It’s also in my lovely shorthand directions that confuse people. Don’t worry, I’ll give you actual directions in a moment. Well, other than exact salt and pepper ratios. You know how much salt you like, so go with your normal amount. If you get done and it’s not enough, just add it at the end. I’m a bit of a “pinch” cook and don’t get too crazy with measuring most things.
This meal is pretty quick and it’s cheap, fills you up, and feeds probably 6-8 people. I make a lot so that we have leftovers as a family of four with two little kids.
– Two chicken breasts
– 2 cups chopped carrot
– 1 cup peas
– 1/2 cup chopped onion
– 1/2 cup chopped celery
– Spices – salt, pepper, herbs de provence, bay leaf
– 1 clove minced garlic
– 2 cups all purpose flour
– 1 tbsp baking powder
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 1/2 cup cold butter (one stick)
– 1/2 cold water
Fill your large pot 10 cups of water and bring to a boil. Drop in your chicken breasts along with about a tbsp of herbs de provence, salt, and a bay leaf. I’ll be honest I don’t really measure my spices very often.
I sort of rub the spices in my hand while I drop them in to let them give some more flavor. I love this herb mix for basically any chicken dish! I also used on-the-bone chicken breasts because I got a killer deal on them. I have to shred it no matter what, so the rib bones aren’t a big issue.
Let this simmer while you get your veg going.
Now a word here – I tend to buy my “soup veggies” (onion, carrot, celery) in bulk and chop them all up and then flash freeze them and bag them up. This makes my prep on week days so much faster! The flash freezing is the important step so that they stay nice and don’t get freezer burn.
So anyway…on to the cooking! Put your onion, carrot, and celery in a pan with a bit of olive oil over medium heat. Add your garlic and season with salt and pepper and a bit more herbs. Seasoning every portion of a soup or stew gets the flavor going and saves you from taking a trip to Bland Land.
Let this cook down until you start to see a touch of color on the onions. Everything will smell amazing and look amazing.
Once this is done, turn off the burner and just leave it for a minute. By now your chicken should be done, so remove it and shred it. Return it to the pot of simmering water (now chicken stock!) and add in the veggies (but not the peas yet).
Now on to the dumplings! This is a simple dough and makes lovely thick but still soft dumplings. They are comparable to Cracker Barrel style dumplings. (Some people prefer fluffy biscuit style dumplings – these are not like that).
Mix your dry ingredients together (flour, baking powder, salt). Then cut up your butter into small pieces. This helps cut it in a bit easier. Try to do this quickly, because cold butter is the goal here.
Blend it in until you have pea size pieces of butter throughout the flour. I use a pastry blender but a fork works just as well.
Once that is done, add your 1/2 cup of cold water. It doesn’t need to be ice water, but it should be cold. I use water from my fridge. Mix this in gently with a spoon. Its more of a folding and scraping thing than mixing. Don’t over work it. It will look like this:
At this point you want to gently knead it in the bowl a few times so it comes together. Again, don’t over work it or it will get tough. Then turn it out on your lightly floured counter.
Roll it out to about 1/4 inch or a little thicker. It doesn’t have to be pretty. You are about to cut it anyway. At this point turn your chicken soup up from a simmer to a boil.
Now you need to cut this lovely weird shape into dumplings. My secret weapon – a pizza cutter! Cut into 1in or 1.5in squares. Roughly big bite size. If you have weird little pieces at the sides don’t worry. They are yum too.
Check that your soup base is at a boil. Then sprinkle just a tbsp of flour over the dumplings. This extra bit of flour helps thicken the stock. When your soup is at a boil, throw in the dumplings a hand full at a time, stirrring gently between hand fulls.
Your dumplings will now look like they have soap in them. They don’t. Its normal. Don’t be scared!
Once all dumplings are in, cover and turn down to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Then turn it off and let it cool. It will thicken a bit.
Then serve, adding a touch of fresh pepper to each bowl.
What are your favorite comfort foods? Do you have family recipes that are close to your heart and stomach?
From the Desk of MamaBice_Makes