Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Chicken and Dumplings

I love my family, especially my mom, who is one of the best cooks in the world, I swear. Nothing compares to some of her dishes for comfort and deliciousness. That said, because my dad wasn't an adventurous eater when we were growing up, my mom had a meat and potatoes philosophy when it came to dinner and had a number of meals that were on a permanent rotation. We didn't have onions or garlic in our food, unless it was the powdered form. Fortunately, Hubs and I are the exact opposite and really like to try new recipes with all kinds of ingredients-especially garlic and onions!

This recipe is one that I created because, although I didn't have chicken and dumplings growing up, Hubby did. Coming from a Ukrainian family meant that dumplings were a staple, according to him, and he really wanted chicken and dumplings a few weeks ago, so I obliged. We had a rotisserie chicken from Costco (the best kind of chicken for just about any dish) and Hubby didn't want carrots, so I used peas and celery and then chopped up the celery tops to add to the dumplings because I love, love, love the flavor of celery leaves. I've made this a couple of times since and I love it even more each time. It's even better the next day, which is really nice! The best part of the recipe is that it's easy to change it up. Add carrots or diced potatoes or any other veggies you like. We won't be changing it up much because we love it so much as is. Another permanent recipe dish, for sure!

Chicken and Dumplings

3-4 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (or one large rotisserie chicken, shredded)
1 bunch of celery, with the tops
2 shallots or 1 yellow onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 quarts chicken stock (1 1/2 boxes)
1/3 cup milk
Salt and pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons water
2/3 cup frozen peas

For the dumplings:
1 1/4 cups Bisquick
1/2 cup milk
1-2 tablespoons minced celery tops

Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Chop up four ribs of celery and add to the pot with the onions and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and sauté for about 6 minutes, or until softened a bit. Whisk in flour and cook for 1-2 minutes, whisking constantly. Add stock and bring to a boil, whisking to remove all the yummy bits from the bottom of the pot. Boil for 5 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium-low and add milk, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste and cook an additional 5 minutes. Make a slurry with the cornstarch and water and whisk into the broth, then add chicken and peas. Heat through for a few minutes while you make the dumplings.

For the dumplings: Mix Bisquick, milk, and chopped celery tops together in a medium bowl. Gently spoon the mixture by tablespoonfuls on top of the chicken stew. Cover the pot and gently steam the dumplings on the stovetop on low heat for 20 minutes until firm and puffed. Spoon into bowls and enjoy!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Beef Stew in a Red Wine Sauce

A terrible photo of an absolutely amazing meal!

I have been very lucky this pregnancy, in that I have been able to cook and enjoy it almost the entire time (the first few months were a bit iffy!). I'm also lucky to have a husband that LOVES food and gets really, really excited about trying new recipes and techniques. He's a great help in the kitchen, too. This recipe was definitely one that required an extra set of hands because of all the steps--and because I'm eight months pregnant and the size of a duplex, so I don't move very fast!

In terms of work, this particular recipe is really up there, but the end result is worth it a thousand times over. Every flavor was amazing, every component was worth the work it took, every bite was heaven. Sometimes a dish is just so perfect that you can't help but smile when you eat it (and maybe your eyes roll back in your head a bit--I'm not saying mine did, but . . . yeah, they did). Because we changed the second part of this recipe so much, I wanted to make sure that I blogged it so we won't forget exactly what we did. I'm eventually going to make a family recipe book, which will include our favorite dishes. This one will absolutely be in that book--with a much better set of photos! My push present for this baby is going to be a new camera and lens--thanks, Hubby! Anyway, here is the beef stew in a red wine sauce in all its delicious glory!

Beef Stew in a Red Wine Sauce
*Adapted from Jacques Pépin

First phase:

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 pounds beef stew meat, cut in 2 inch chunks
Salt and Pepper
1 yellow onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tablespoons flour
1 bottle dry red wine**
2 bay leaves
1 thyme sprig

**We used Costco's Kirkland Signature Côtes du Rhône, which was inexpensive and yummy. For more sauce, I might use a bottle and a half next time.

Preheat the oven to 350º. In a Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Generously season the meat with salt and pepper and brown in a single layer (you'll need to cook it in batches), about 3 minutes per side. Remove the meat, place on a plate, and set aside. Lower the heat to medium and add a little more olive oil, if necessary. Add onion and garlic and sauté until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the meat and any juices on the plate back into the pot and sprinkle with flour. Stir to coat the meat, then pour in the red wine. Add the bay leaves, thyme, and salt and pepper and bring to a boil, stirring to incorporate all the delicious brown bits on the bottom of the pot. Cover and place in the oven. Cook for 2 hours, or until the meat is fork tender.

Second phase:

1 package of bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 yellow onion, finely diced
15 baby bella mushrooms, diced
15 baby carrots, diced
Salt and pepper

Sauté bacon in a large skillet until cooked through and a bit crispy. Remove and place on a plate with paper towels and set aside. Drain off all but 1-2 tablespoons of the bacon fat and add onion, mushrooms, and carrots. Season with salt and pepper and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly for about 15 minutes, or until the veggies have softened and the mushrooms have released their liquid.

To serve:

Add a healthy dollop of mashed potatoes to a bowl. Place a few delicious pieces of super tender meat on top of the potatoes, then sprinkle on some bacon and a generous amount of the veggies. Top with the red wine sauce and enjoy every blissful bite!