Sunday, December 2, 2007

Chicken and Dumplings

Those of you who know me, know that I love to cook and living in Cholula Red hasn't changed that at all. We meet many RVers who are proud of the fact that they never use their ovens and still have a pristine stovetop, but that just doesn't apply to me.

That said, cooking in the RV does require some modifications, due to limited space, but I do dearly love a challenge.

The weather here has been pretty nippy and I was yearning for some good old home made chicken and dumplings. Well, I didn't have a whole chicken to make stock, and we were out of flour, so I guess you can see where this is going.

Digging through the cupboards, I found a box of chicken stock (and just let me say here that it is my belief that whoever invented boxed stock deserves some kind of award, perhaps one of those Nobel ones?). Anyhow, I continued to dig around and found a couple of bags of mixed veggies in the freezer, as well as some boneless skinless chicken breasts that needed cooking.

I started with the stock, then added the veggies. I had an onion, so that went in also, as well as about eight cloves of garlic. Can there ever be too much garlic? Of course not!

While this was simmering away and I dug around in the fridge and found some leftover wild rice, so i decided to throw that into the pot as well.

As an aside here, have you ever tried the precooked wild rice from Trader Joe's? This stuff is almost as amazing as boxed chicken stock! They have cooked a whole pound of genuine wild rice (not a mix of wild and white rices like you usually find in the stores) and vacuum sealed it in a bag so that it doesn't require refrigeration! This is now a staple in our home, perfect for the motorhome, but also for a stick house. We use it in all kinds of things, but particularly like sauteing some onions, LOTS of garlic and whatever leftover veggies we can find, then throwing in the rice and heating it all through). This is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser as the wild rice is perfectly cooked and oh so nutty and flavorful!

Anyhow, I digress, back to the soup . . .

So now we have stock, veggies and rice, simmering away to blend the flavors. After about twenty minutes or so, I chop up the chicken into fairly large cubes and in it goes. It's a good idea to have the soup at a nice simmer, not a boil. This way the chicken stays nice and tender.

So it's simmering away and I taste it and it's kind of flat, so I go to the trusty spice pantry (one of my very favorite things in my Lazy Daze) and start poking around. A little of this and a lot of that and it starts to take shape. Now I'm not hiding any recipes here, but when it comes to spices, I pretty much fly by the seat of my pants. I can tell you that I put in a good amount of garlic powder, some poultry seasoning, some seasoning salt (French flavor with herbs), and a healthy shot of "Slap Ya Mama", one of my favorite seasonings.

And of course, I put in a hit or two of Cholula!

After the chicken was nicely cooked, I tasted it and while it was coming along nicely, I wasn't happy with the thickness of the stock, it was somewhat watery. In the cupboard, I found a can of cream of chicken soup, so, along with that, I added about a cup of sour cream. One taste told me this was the magic flavor point, so I let it go for about another 20 minutes, still at a low simmer.

Now those dumplings . . . While homemade dumplings are the bar by which all others will forever be measured, I was short on ingredients, so I thought about that can of refrigerator biscuits I'd been carting around for the last couple of months.

Well, if it didn't work it was just us, so I decided to give it a try. I cranked up the heat on the soup, opened the biscuits and cut each one in half and started dropping them in. When you make fresh dumplings, the rule is boil uncovered for ten minutes, then cover and simmer low for another ten, so that's what I did. When you drop in the biscuits, I like to poke them down into the broth and very gently baste them with juice after about five minutes.

After the whole pot had cooked covered for ten minutes, I took a look and lo and behold, it sure looked like chicken and dumplings to me!

And now for the taste test! If I do say so myself, this was one tasty dish. I liked it a lot and Terry had three bowls! We still had so much that we offered some to the lady next door, and she came back for seconds!

In case anyone is interested, here's a list of the ingredients

1 box chicken stock
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1 bag mixed peas and carrots (frozen)
1 bag mixed stew vegetables (frozen)
including pearl onions, potatoes, carrots, green beans
1 onion, diced
minced garlic to your taste
2 fresh chicken breasts (leftovers would do fine here)
(for soup I sometimes use skinless canned chunk chicken breast which resembles canned tuna, also works great in enchiladas or lasagna)
spices to taste (poultry spice, pepper, some hot sauce or other heat)
1 can refrigerator biscuits (the flakier the better)
Any appropriate leftovers you have floating around in the fridge can also be added.

So, do any of you care about recipes? If so, let me know and occasionally I'll add one or two (and maybe even some pictures).

Life is good, and so is home cooking!

1 comment:

photowannabe said...

You made me drool Kate. These sound wonderful. I need to get back into cooking myself. I have been too lazy.