Chicken and Dumplings

My father gave me a gift subscription to Bon Appetit and I’ve been loving it! The February 2012 issue was all about southern food and it got me thinking about how little I’ve learned about southern cuisine over the past 5 years. I wouldn’t go so far as to say chicken and dumplings is a southern recipe, but dumplings, like biscuits, tend to make me think of southern cooking.

To that end, I decided it would be a good idea to try out the Chicken and Dumplings recipe that appeared in this issue of Bon Appetit. Let me start by saying it is delicious. Let me follow that by saying it is super easy! The dumplings are a ricotta-based gnocchi and are packed full of taste but remain really light. Just dump the ingredients in a bowl, mix and chill. Nutmeg makes it such an interesting flavor. The chicken and gravy portion of the recipe is equally easy. Cook the chicken in the chicken broth, remove, make a roux of butter and flour, whisk it in to the broth, add the chopped vegetables, shred the meat and add it back to the pot. Viola a hearty, flavorful, healthy dinner!

Two of my dear friends from college came over to help me eat the large pot of this, and their were claims that this was the best meal they’d had in a long time. It doesn’t get better than easy to make, extremely delicious, and healthy too!

You can find the recipe on the Bon Appetit site, here. I made this again within the week and so far everyone who’s tried it has asked for the recipe. Now, I’ll just refer them here. I do hope you enjoy this though; it’s perfect for both a cold wintery night and a pleasant summer evening. This recipe is going down as one of my fall backs for many many years to come.

Chili, Part 1

While everyone else is busy thinking about a menu for Thanksgiving, or if they are not the cooks this year, their travel plans for Thanksgiving, I am focused intently on coming up with a new chili recipe for the annual chili cook off that happens in my boyfriend’s family. It works out well because there are three main teams (by couple) and there are always a few people nearby that stop by to eat and prevent any tie that might have occurred otherwise. Last year, Karl and I were the champs. We worked off of heavily modified version of my mother’s recipe—a chunky tomato-based, lean ground beef, kidney beans (soaked over night with Anaheim chili peppers), and lots of spices—and won, as we heard it, because it was a chili that was the most traditional in a lot of ways. I am definitely a fan of this type of chili recipe, but due to an unfortunate mishap while moving the acclaimed recipe has been lost. Fear not, however, because I just started planning early for this years new recipe.

About four months ago, I came across a spicy tomato bisque recipe and decided to give it a try. I followed the directions fairly closely and the end result was a soup that was almost inedible because it was so heavily spiced. I definitely did not want to throw it out, so I figured I could try it out as the liquid and spice for a new chili. I had little hope of it being a game changing decision, but low and behold it was delicious! I have since tweaked the recipe and changed around the balance of ingredients a little bit, but I think we’ve got another winning chili recipe on our hands. Until the results are in, I will give you the modified version of the soup recipe and I would strongly recommend trying it out as a new way to add spice and bold flavor to chili.

Spicy Tomato Base for Chili

1 tbsp Vegetable Oil
1 c Chopped Onion
3 cloves Garlic, minced
1/4 c Celery
56 oz Tomatoes, crushed
3 c Vegetable Broth
1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tbsp Dried Thyme
1 tsp Pepper, cracked
8-10 drops Tabasco
1/4 tsp Ground Cayenne

1. Heat a large pot over Medium-High heat.

2. Sauté the onion, garlic and celery until tender.

3. Stop cooking and puree the onion, garlic and celery mixture. Then move it back to the pan.

4. Stir in the tomatoes, broth, Worcestershire sauce, salt, thyme, pepper, Tabasco, and cayenne.

5. Reduce to low heat and simmer, covered, for approximately 30 minutes stirring frequently.

Once the primary ingredients for the chili are cooked and combined, add several cups of the tomato soup. Additional chili powder should be added to taste. This makes enough soup for several batches of chili, so after using it, I recommend dividing the remainder in to 2-4 cup servings and freezing them.

I like to serve my chili over cooked macaroni noodles and top it with diced onions and a little bit of Colby Jack cheese. Enjoy!

NOTE: For those of you involved in the contest of which I speak, I am taking it on good faith that this will not be used against me.