Creamy Chunky Chicken and Love Dumplings

Just cooked up a super-giant batch of chicken and dumplings for a memorial gathering this weekend. The leftovers (Approximately 1-ish gallon from a 2.5 gallon container and a medium-sized crock pot) from said memorial were scarfed down by some of the night-shift nurses at the hospital where I work. My wife, Melanie a nurse at the forementioned hospital, already had a bit of dumplings from the private stash I saved for her Friday night. Apparently, nurses make quick work of utilizing dumplings for their primary purpose. Thus, there have been several requests, from both consumption events, for the recipe and I am obliged to share it with anyone who likes chicken and dumplings.

Some mild decryption was necessary. This was mostly due to my haphazard manner of recording home-cooking sessions (see picture below this paragraph). I will be sharing more recipes in the future. This blog was started in the hopes of making the world a little less bad. What better way than through digestive enlightenment?

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WARNING! note:  This is not gluten-free. Neither is it paleo-friendly. Nor is it heart-healthy. It IS delicious. Consume with caution and moderation to avoid diabetes, heart disease, excessive elation, and post-carb/meat-devouration sweats.

Credit where it is due note:  The dumpling part of the recipe is a modification of the amazing Alton Brown’s dumpling recipe from the Don’t Be Chicken of Dumplings episode of Good Eats. I don’t generally prefer to use vegetable shortening for anything other than seasoning my skillet or grill grates. So, I plugged in butter instead. I know. I know. You are saying to yourself, “Butter is not heart-healthy!” True. However, butter IS soul-healthy. On the upside of health, this recipe has plenty of chunks of veggies in it.

Dumpling lovers’s note:  Feel free to double the dumplings if you really like carbs. Or veggies if you are so inclined. They are both delicious.

Pictures note: Sorry for the lack of pictures. I only took a picture of the dumplings after being squished into what looked vaguely like an island that should be conquered by Vikings.

Be an editor-in-intern note:  If you see any typos, please let me know. I was half…okay…three-quarters distracted making boiled peanuts when I wrote this. Email: reasonablerobot@gmail.com.

Notes note:  Sorry for all the notes.

After much ado and too many notes, here’s the recipe!

Creamy Chunky Chicken and Love Dumplings

Ingredients:

Chicken

  • 1 package boneless skinless Perdue chicken thighs (roughly 1.5 to 2 pounds)
  • 3 tablespoons smoked spanish paprika
  • 1 1/4 tablespoons powdered garlic
  • 1 tablespoons onion powder
  • 1 tablespoons dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 tablespoons fresh ground black pepper
  • 1-ish tablespoons grape seed oil

Dumplings

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
  • 2 teaspoons plus a pinch aluminum-free baking powder (Metal may have it’s merits, but metal gets no medals with meats.)
  • 1 teaspoon plus a pinch fine salt (you know, that Morton’s type-stuff!)
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted (I usually microwave it 30 seconds on high. Then, 10 second intervals until just melted. You could also melt it over low heat in a sauce pan if you want to cook like a savage.)
  • 1/2 cup whole milk, chilled
  • Approximately 2 pounds of love

Creamy Veggie Stew

  • 1 Vidalia onion
  • 3-4 stalks celery (Or more if you like fiber. Or celery flavor)
  • 3-4 carrots (Same goes for carrots as the celery)
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme pulled off the stem (I’m considering throwing the whole sprig in next time these get made. Then the stems can be pulled out once the leaves have come loose.)
  • 2 tablespoons grape seed oil
  • 1-3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 6 teaspoons powdered chicken stock (I use Orrington Farm’s Chicken Broth Base)
  • 6-8 cups water (possibly more, so keep some on tap…teehee)
  • 1/3 cup whole milk (or use cream if you like things rich)

Equipment

  • A container for marinading the chicken (I use my biggest glass casserole dish with a lid)
  • Tongs
  • Small bowl (for seasoning blend)
  • 2 large mixing bowls  (for mixing dumplings and veggie storage)
  • Rolling pin (I used the thickest 3 foot oak dowel I could find from Ace Hardware. It’s well cleaned and untreated wood. Also, it doubles as a self-defense/crowd-control device. KITCHEN HACK!!!)
  • Wire whisk
  • Cutting board
  • 1 large stock pot with a properly fitting lid
  • The biggest cast iron or thick-bottomed skillet you can find
  • A large clean work surface for rolling the dumplings
  • Pizza slicer (Preferably plastic, unless you have a big enough pastry sheet to put roll the dumplings on.)
  • Maybe some other stuff. You should probably read the whole recipe before starting. Remember…haphazard.

Welcome to the Instructions:

Start out by mixing the smoked spanish paprika, powdered garlic, onion powder, dried thyme, kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper in a small bowl. Put the chicken in the container for marinading and evenly coat with one tablespoon grape seed oil. Sprinkle the seasoning blend over the chicken and mix the chicken thighs around to make sure the marinade is in as many crevices of the thighs as possible. Cover the chicken and put in the fridge to marinade while you prepare the dumplings and veggies (approximately 1 hour).

Whisk together the dry ingredients for the dumplings (flour, baking powder, salt) in a large mixing bowl. Make sure they are well blended. Pour the melted butter into the chilled milk in a measuring cup. Mix well. Slowly pour the milk/butter concoction into the dry ingredients until a soft dough is formed. Add a splash of milk if the dough seems dry. It should be a little brittle, but not too brittle. Knead the dough on a generously floured clean surface 3-4 times. DO NOT treat it like a punching bag. This is where the 2 pounds of love comes into the mix. After lovingly kneading the dough, roll it out until it is very flat (about 1/8-1/4 inch or so). Spread a light dusting of flour over the flattened dough and cover with wax paper or a clean tea cloth. Let that sit for an hour or so before moving onto cooking the chicken.

While the dumplings are sitting, thoroughly clean the carrots and celery under cool water. DO NOT peel the carrots. Ignore me if you have a dislike for fantastic flavor. Coarsely chop the carrots, celery, and onion. In that order, unless you like handling a sharp knife while you are crying a river of tears. Set the veggies aside while you prepare the chicken.

Over medium heat, saute the chicken thighs until they are just starting to brown. Make sure they reach 165°F. For real, you don’t want salmonella. Also, scrape the bottom of the pan good when flipping them, that’s flavor! Once the chicken is done cooking, set it aside in a dish that can be covered by another dish of about the same size. Save those drippings for the veggie stew.

Saute the veggies (carrots, celery, onion, garlic, and fresh thyme) over medium heat until they start to soften and smell like heaven on earth. Turn the heat down to low and slowly add the 1-3 tablespoons of flour while continuously stirring the veggies. Be careful not to let lumps form. Once that starts to look like a nice roux, slowly pour about 2 teaspoons of powdered chicken broth. When that is blended together nicely, add 1 cup of the water. That should start to smooth out into a nice gravy-like mix. Once it is thickened slightly, dump that into the a stock pot and set the pot to low-medium heat. Use some the water you have set aside to deglaze as much flavor as you can out of the skillet and into the stock pot. Add more water to the stock pot to make for a total of 6 cups of water in said pot. Mix in the remaining 4 teaspoons powdered stock to the pot. Stir well and cover. Simmer and stir occasionally until the dumplings have been sitting for about 2 hours. You can wait longer if the dumplings are covered. I don’t recommend letting the dumplings sit for less than an hour.

When you are ready to add the dumplings, turn the stock pot up to medium to medium-high heat and leave the lid off. If the stew seems like it is not enough, add more water. Pour any juice that has accumulated from the chicken into the pot. Set the chicken aside somewhere (we aren’t ready to add it…YET!). Now comes the fun part. Cut the dumpling dough into roughly 1 inch strips. Gently pull up one strip at a time. Be careful with it, this stuff is flaky and fragile. It’s also tasty before being cooked…shhhhhh…my little secret. Carefully tear 1 to 2 inch pieces off of each strip and place them perpendicularly to the surface of the liquid into the stock pot. Pretending to be a kitchen-ninja throwing doughy shuriken at bubbly water-monsters is pretty awesome. Give the stew a brisk, yet loving, stir to keep them from sticking after each strip is torn and placed (or shirukened) into the pot. And now comes the hardest part.

Once all of the dumpling are ninja-ed into the pot, cover with the properly fitting lid and turn to low heat for 20 minutes. DO NOT fiddle with the dumplings for this time period. They need to steam and plump up a touch. Seriously, go play a match of your favorite vidya game or watch an episode of some cartoon about a dimension-jumping grandpa or something. Twenty minutes of non-poking a pot is not that hard. Is it?

Here’s something else you can do to pass the time. Dice the chicken thighs into bit-sized pieces on a clean cutting board. Trim any bits of fat or skin that are left on them. Throw the skin and fat away or whatever you want with them. Don’t chew on them. They are not tasty. Or are they? Cover and set that diced chicken to the side until it is time to do something with it, again. I won’t leave you hanging.

Okay. Did you manage to make it 20 minutes without peaking in the pot? Great! Now! Time to add the chicken after giving the stew a little stir to make sure the dumplings aren’t stuck together. Notice the additional liquid that came off the chicken thighs? Yeah! You are going to dump that liquid into the pot. Yum! Stir gently, again. Add the 1/3 cup whole milk (or cream if you are into that kind of decadence). Let the dumplings simmer uncovered over low heat for another 10-15 minutes to thicken. Stir it occasionally to ensure the dumplings aren’t sticking together. Nobody likes dumpling meteorites. If they get too thick, add a little water or milk (or cream) to thin it to the desired consistency. Now salt and pepper to taste. I usually add about ten good turns on a pepper grinder and 2-3 generous pinches of kosher salt. Enjoy!

Serves 4-6. With left-overs. Maybe!

Please feel free to comment below, or by email if you don’t like public comment sections. If you make any modifications, I’d like to hear how they went. Even if you follow the recipe, I’d like to hear how you like ’em.

 

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