Wednesday, February 15, 2012

dark days of winter meal 7: chicken and dumplings

i guess i missed a couple of weeks there--i am doing a LOT of local cooking, but the blogging part is often hard for me to keep up with. especially true when there have been some family illnesses to deal with on top of all the normal life madness. not making excuses...just explaining where the heck i've been. to me, the point of this challenge is to make me aware of where everything we eat originates and to make as much of an effort as i can to keep things as local as possible.

on the menu
  • chicken and dumplings with kohlrabi and baby carrots

chicken and dumplings

(WORST. PICTURE. EVER. --sorry!)

local ingredients
  • whole stewing hen from fickle creek farm (efland, nc, 44 miles)*
  • cutting celery from screech owl greenhouse (moncure, nc, 19 miles)*
  • kohlrabi from coon rock farm (hillsborough, nc, 35 miles)*
  • mixed baby carrots from coon rock farm (hillsborough, nc, 35 miles)*
  • thyme from our yard (apex, nc, 15 feet)
  • whole wheat pastry flour from singing turtle farm (dunn, nc, 54 miles)*
  • rendered lard from fickle creek farm (efland, nc, 44 miles)*
  • butter from maple view farm (hillsborough, nc 35 miles)
  • buttermilk from maple view farm (hillsborough, nc 35 miles)

* purchased at western wake farmers market

non-local ingredients
  • onion
  • pepper
  • salt
  • baking powder
  • sugar
easy: this is a meal i planned for while walking through the farmers market, so it was very easy to get all the ingredients on the spot. some things i already had on hand.

challenging: oddly, nothing to report here. i have accepted the salt, pepper, baking powder, and sugar limitations, so there were no issues there. i just use those things as sparingly as i can, and keep the focus more on the local things i CAN get.


chicken stock

1 whole stewing hen, about 3 lbs.
1/2 large yellow onion
4-5 stalks of cutting celery
a bunch of thyme
salt and pepper to taste

directions: this one's easy. place all ingredients in a large stock pot. add water until everything is well covered with maybe 1.5 inches to spare. bring it to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover. cook until the meat is starting to separate from the bone, about 4 hours. remove chicken and strain the broth into a clean soup pot. add salt and pepper to taste.
note: you now have awesome broth--you could make anything! :)

chicken and dumplings with carrots and kohlrabi

1.5 - 2lbs young fresh carrots
~1 lb kohlrabi, about 2 bulbs
1 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3 tsp baking powder
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp lard
3/4 cup buttermilk

trim carrot stems to about 1/2 an inch, then peel carrots. trim away thinnest part of root if necessary. peel and dice kohlrabi to about 1/2 inch chunks. return the broth to a slow boil, and meanwhile, make the dumplings. in large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. cut in butter and lard with a pastry knife or work in with fingers until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. aff buttermilk all at once and make a sticky dough. turn onto floured surface and lightly knead (more like patting) until dough gets just a little springy. roll out to about 3/8 inch thickness, and cut out dumplings (i used a 1-inch round cutter, but you can use whatever you like.) when the broth is boiling, add the veggies and let them cook for about 5 minutes befor eyou add the dumplings. add them slowly, one at a time, till they are all in. note that if your pot is furiously boiling, it will break the dumplings apart. go slow, and cook at a soft boil. everything should be done by the time the veggies are tender, about 10 more minutes.

note: the dumplings are adapted from the biscuit recipe in bill neal's souther cooking cookbook, and they definitely need a little tweaking to get just right. when i made this, i think i added too much buttermilk, so i cut the amount here back a little to 3/4 of a cup. my dumplings fell apart more than i would have liked, although they tasted great. next time i will put in 3/4 cup buttermilk, and maybe up the other fats just a little while dropping 1/2 a tsp of baking powder. the kitchen, as y'all well know, is a lab.

family ruling
AWESOME! will absolutely be making this again.

further thoughts
there are few foods on the earth more divine than fresh baby carrots. so. delicious.

kohlrabi is turning out to be a new favorite of mine. it's like a cross between jicama, broccoli, and a potato. it's good julienned and added raw to salads, it's good in stirfry and sautes for pasta, and it's delicious in stews and soups. it brings a lot to the table, and there's nothing hard to prepare about it. i was kind of intimidated by it at first, but now i want more, and i can't wait to try making slaw out of it, too. it seems like you could use it with or in place of many other things. i wonder if i could make it mashed with some cheese? steamed? in strips with hummus in my lunch box? it seems remarkably useful, healthy, and versatile. let's hear it for cool new (to me) veggies!

one last note on lard: this was my first time working with it, and man--it's pretty awesome. it's the texture--it's smooth as silk, and so easy to work into the flour. i think i might have to try making some tortillas. i am almost sorry i liked it as much as i did--it's not exactly the healthiest fat. but i just wanted to check it out. i felt so old school! i'd be interested to know if you've every cooked with it, and what you thought. my mother always swore it made her biscuits. i wonder if it would mine, too...


Sincerely, Emily said...

Jackie - your soup looks wonderful. I like the flavor combinations. YUM! Sincerely, Emily

Jes said...

I would have never thought to put kholrabi in chicken and dumplings--sounds/looks amazing though! Perfect comfort food dish.

Luke said...

Awesome. I am a huge fan of Maple View farms. They have the best dairy!