Some of my earliest memories were of roaming the farmyard with my dog (a springer spaniel cross, named Freckles) and playing with the chickens. However, there was the rooster. He unleashed a reign of terror on me that rivaled WWII.
This rooster was a crafty devil. When the adults were around and on watch he casually scratched about, paying no attention to me. But, when they left, he lit after me and I ran screaming to the house, as fast as my short legs would carry me. Since none of the adults had witnessed the scene, they thought I was telling stories. He carried on this game for quite some time and had me terrified to venture past the front step of the house, until one fateful day.
My great aunt decided to set a trap and catch him at the crime. She sent me into the yard and kept watch from the porch. That old rooster saw an opportunity to once again scare me witless and came across the yard at a dead run. Auntie reached me first and scooped me up just as that rooster was hitting his stride. She had the proof.
Sunday dinner was chicken and dumplings. From then on, I could roam the yard without fear and life was good.
Chicken and Dumplings
1 1/2 - 2 lbs trimmed boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 large onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 lb carrots, chopped
4-6 Tbsp flour, depending on how thick you want your stew
1/4 cup dry sherry
4 cups (2 lbs) chicken stock
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced (or half quantity dried)
2 bay leaves
1 lb frozen peas
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
3 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup chicken fat, skimmed from stew (alt: vegetable oil)
1+ cup milk
Saute onion and celery until the onion softens and starts to become transparent. Add liquid ingredients, thyme, bay leaves, flour, and chicken thighs. Simmer for one hour.
After an hour, add the carrots and skim as much fat off as you can. Reserve the fat, just dump it right into your measuring cup and try to get at least 1/3 of a cup. It's ok to get a little stock or thyme in there. If using chicken fat grosses you out, substitute vegetable oil. Also, start a large pot of water to boil for your dumplings.
Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir together. Add milk to your reserved fat until you have 1 1/3 cup liquid. Stir into dry ingredients, adding more milk if needed. Dough should hold together but not be wet. Roll out 1/8" thick and cut into 1" squares. Boil until they sink, about 15-20 minutes.
While the dumplings are cooking, remove chicken thighs to a plate or bowl and shred using two forks. Add back into stew. When dumplings are done, check carrots for doneness. If they're ready, add dumplings directly to stew. If not, drain them and let them hang out until the carrots are cooked and then add.
Remove from heat and add peas, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Let sit until peas have come up to temperature, then tuck in.
Creativity has been my life and I would like to share some of my thoughts, learning and fun facts with you.