Monday, July 30, 2007

Spawn Trail

Well, he’s seriously thinking of moving out and moving in with friends, none of whom is actually currently living away from home. I think it’s going to be a big, group maneuver if and when it happens. “If,” being the big question mark.

I’ve said my bit, my husband has said his bit, we’ve reminded him that in a year he’ll be moving out anyway when he transfers to a four-year college, but he, like a young lion of the pride, wants to wander further afield and get away from our oversight. I happen to think, to myself, as I do so much when it comes to dealing with my oldest son, that it’s not going to come off, but I won’t deny him either the chance to dream or the chance to get a snootful of lesson-learning reality.

The idea does not disturb me, just the youthful optimism, timing and lack of experience. He’s not going to get experience otherwise, but I do wish he’d wait until he tries the dorm experience first. Not my call, though, and, at this stage in his development (a phrase he’d really hate to hear me say) admonitions and advice from mom are emasculating.

So, I’m also feeling a little sentimental. I remember him when he was a bobble-headed, hairless baby in a blue sacque; a toddler running and falling in the backyard, an eager elementary school student, an early teen, struggling mightily with new social rules, and his last few years in high school when he finally found a group of people to be friends with and a persona he was comfortable wearing. During all those times, excluding the two years when he was wearing braces, he’s had a particular favorite recipe – southern style Chicken and Dumplings. (They gummed up in his braces, which is why he would only sip the soup and avoided the dumplings.)

In honor of Spawn, whether he moves out or not, here’s my recipe for Chicken and Dumplings.

Chicken and Dumplings
Prep Time:
20 minutes
Cook Time: 120 minutes
Feeds: 6-10 (4-6 teen boys)

Chicken – any amount greater than three legs up to a whole chicken, cut up
4-6 C chicken broth
2 cups water
2 chicken bouillon cubes (I like Knorr brand)
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1-cup milk
Pepper, Poultry Seasoning, Salt to taste

Either: 2 C baking mix and 2/3 C milk or buttermilk
2C all purpose flour
½ t baking soda
½ t salt
3T shortening
2/3 C milk or buttermilk

Put the chicken in a Dutch oven or other large pot with a lid; add water, broth, bouillon cubes, carrot, onion, celery, and seasonings. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer 1 hour to 90 minutes, remove chicken. Lower heat under broth while you allow chicken to cool, debone and skin it, and chop it to small pieces. Add milk to broth. Check broth for seasonings and add more now if desired.

Dumplings: Either mix the baking mix and milk or make from scratch by cutting shortening into all combined dry ingredients, then adding milk. Mix only until all ingredients are moistened. Use a little more flour or baking mix if needed to handle the dough without it sticking to you.

Three types of dumplings, your choice:

Drop: pat dough to ¼ inch thickness and pinch off 1.5 inch pieces
Rolled: roll dough to ¼ inch thickness and cut into 3” x 1” strips
Balls: Pinch off dough to make balls about 1-1.5 inches in diameter. Roll just enough to make obvious spheres (I like this type best.)

Bring the broth to a boil; drop 2 dumplings at a time into boiling broth. Reduce heat to medium or medium-low. Cook 8-10 minutes, stirring 3 or 4 times to keep dumplings from sticking together. Add the chicken and cook another 3 or 4 minutes. Remove from heat and serve.

The broth will seem thin until you start cutting the dumplings open in it and they soak up additional broth. Yum.

I sometimes add a tablespoon or two of bacon drippings to the dumplings to add flavor, and I make them a little bigger, too.

You can add pretty much any chicken flavored thing to the broth that you have in the fridge from earlier meals, and it will still taste fine. You could even add more vegetables; it's stew, be creative.

I prefer to use dark meat only for chicken stews like this one because of the strong flavor. (For clear chicken soups, I like white meat only.)

If, like in my family, the next day you have some leftover broth and no dumplings, just heat up the broth and add a little water, then stir up more dumplings and cook them just like before.



Brigitte said...

I can't wait to try this one in the fall!

Amber in Albuquerque said...

As soon as I can approach my stove again (it's so freakin' hot here I haven't cooked anything in weeks), I'm gonna give that one a shot. The DH says he hates dumplings, but I'll see if I can convert him. Saw that hottie German baker at the growers' market, but had forgotten about the bread until I saw the C&D Recipe. I'll ask him next weekend (we're going back so the kids can take advantage of a free bounce castle).

BoS said...

I hope you both enjoy it! It's good old down home cookin'. And, Amber, if you see that baker again, wink at him for me!