Chicken and Dumplings - First Post

Am I too old for this – From Yahoo 360 Blog: January 7, 2007.

I wonder if I am feeling the pains of the generation gap. I'm not a complete Luddite after all I do have modern day trappings - a computer, an Ipod, digital camera, I'm lost without my cellphone, but I do feel woefully behind the times too. Blogging - geesh, it feels so out of my realm. I'm used to tactile things, getting my hands all dirty and greasy by chopping, slicing and dicing, boning out a chicken, making my chicken stew and dumplings. What the heck am I doing here? I have to confess, I was inspired by Rabbi Stone, who just started his own blog about his new-found passion for bicycling. And then there's Karen, my young California friend who has a myspace page that I just don't quite understand. She writes a lot of haiku's. Which are fine, but we've been out of touch and her poems are so raw and passionate that I can't quite figure out what is going on in her life at the moment. I'm more of a straight prose reader. But hey, I figure, if Rabbi can blog, and Karen is part of the blogger generation, then I too must blog. Heck, I've written journals, I've whined, I've been in therapy, it can't be any worse or different. Or can it? There are of course so many blogs out here to read, and who has the time? I sit in front of a computer all day, 9 to 5ish, as an administrator for a Philly synagogue. I spend a lot of time reading food magazines or watching the food network. I teach cooking classes, part-time, for a big wig culinary mecca. I write or adapt recipes for these classes, and spend hours preparing for each week's lessons. When, I ask, will I have the time or energy for blogging? The answer, as we all know, is you make the time. I suppose the hour I spend here is an hour better spent than watching another non-chef/non-cook make another million dollars while I waste my intelligence and time. So, to get back to am I too old for this? Yes and no. It's the contradiction of what makes me. Here I am, a trained chef who hates to work in the industry. I love the teaching and performance of my cooking classes yet I constantly find myself with stage fright. I love to cook and hate witnessing people's bizarre eating habits. I work in an office, a place that I love, yet it's the complete opposite of my food and writing passions. I'm a performer who isn't sure where to perform. What's this blog all about? Well, for starters, an outlet for my food writing and recipe creations. I hope to also make it a home base for my culinary career. I hope to share recipes and ideas, and thoughts on all things food related. I'm also hoping not to bore myself or any potential readers on what I ate. I feel like the meal was only good for the people experiencing it - not the readers of my blog. Besides, there are great food writers everywhere who can describe the perfect meal far better than I could. Like I said before, I'm much more tactile. We'll see where this takes me...

Here's my recipe for Stewed Chicken & Dumplings, which I made for dinner tonight. Though it's not a cold night, it is raining. And it is January for gosh sakes. It may not be cold in Philadelphia but it is winter. As good a reason as any for some comfort food. I think this recipe originated from my 1968 Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook. I used it in my Winter Comfort Foods Cooking Class last year, January 17, 2006. Seems appropriate once again. Note, I used chicken thighs in tonight's meal, and omitted the mushrooms. I added rutabaga, which turned out really nice in the stew. I also found that cooking the stew, and then letting it sit for about 2 hours made it have that mellow/married essence that comes to cook foods when they have had the chance to sit for a while. I reheated the stew and then added the dumplings. My bet is that it will be even better tomorrow. Bon Apetite!

Chicken Stew & Dumplings Ingredients:
  • 4-5 pounds Frying/Stewing Chicken—Cut up into 10 parts
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter—divided
  • Salt & fresh ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups onions—large dice
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups chicken stock or broth
  • 1 1/2-cups carrots—large dice
  • 1-cup celery—large dice
  • 8 ounces mushrooms— sliced thick
  • 4-tablespoons parsley—minced
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper
For Dumplings:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup milk

Directions:
  1. In a small sauce pot, heat the water and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, cover and remove from heat. Set aside.
  2. Rinse and pat dry the chicken parts. Trim away fat & skin. If not already cut up—cut into 10 pieces. Wings cut into 2 pieces each & discard wingtips. Leg and thigh separated. Each breast cut into half. You should have a total of 4 wing pieces; 4 breast pieces; 2 legs; 2 thighs. Season with salt & pepper
  3. Over medium-high heat, use a heavy skillet or Dutch oven, and heat 2 tablespoons of the butter until it is fragrant and golden. Add as many chicken pieces in the pan as will fit comfortably and cook, turning once until pale golden, about 5 minutes per side. Remove the chicken to a plate and brown the remaining pieces in the same manner, adding more butter as needed. Set all the cooked chicken pieces aside.
  4. Next, add the onions to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are tender but not browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in the 1/3 cup flour and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Whisk in 2 cups hot water and 2 cups chicken stock. Whisk constantly and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. The liquid will begin to thicken.
  6. Add the carrots, celery, mushrooms, parsley, thyme and 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Return the chicken pieces, with any accumulated juices to the pan and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat so the that the liquid barely bubbles. Cover tightly and cook until the dark meat pieces exude clear juices when pierced with a fork—about 30 minutes. Skim off the fat from the sides of the pot with a spoon.
  7. For the Dumplings: Prepare the Dumplings once the stew has been cooking for about 20 minutes. Mix together the dry ingredients—flour, baking powder and salt. Heat the butter and the milk in a small sauce pan to a bare simmer. Add the warmed milk & melted butter to the dry ingredients. Stir together with a fork or knead by hand 2-3 times until the mixture just comes together. Divide the dough into about 18 puffy dumplings. Roll each piece of the dough into a rough ball.
  8. Finish cooking the chicken stew and degrease the pan juices. Push the chicken pieces down so that they are submerged in gravy and gently drop spoonfuls over the top. Gently lay the formed dumplings on the surface of the chicken stew, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Serve immediately and garnish with chopped parsley.

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