I relish cooking with leftovers. So does Therese. I’m not sure why this is, but it sure saves us a lot of money, and it generally takes very little time.
Our most recent endeavor was last night, when Therese took over in the kitchen and used some leftover chicken, potatoes, carrots and gravy to fix a mighty fine entree to go along with one of her tasty salads.
She mixed all those ingredients together, along with some cooked peas (frozen variety), before topping it with a Bisquick-type mixture that somewhat resembled dumplings. She then baked it in the oven for about 15 or 20 minutes. I couldn’t have done it any better myself.
That’s the kind of meal that’s comforting on a day like Monday, when snow and wind made life somewhat miserable. It was the perfect meal to come into after a hearty round of shoveling. I would compare it to other comfort foods such as meatloaf, hash and macaroni and cheese.
And that brings me to another favorite comfort food of mine â€” chicken and dumpings. I remember when my mom used to make this when we were kids. It was one of my favorites. Here’s a recipe that I just came across for the tasty dish, which we just might have to try soon.
Chicken with Herbed Cornmeal Dumplings
1 5-pound chicken
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups diced onion, (about 1 large onion)
1 cup diced carrots, trimmed (peeling optional)
1 cup diced celery, trimmed
Â¼ cup thinly sliced leek, cleaned and sliced crosswise into 1/8-inch strips (white and light green only, about Â½ of 1 medium leek)
Â½ cup dry white wine
2 cloves garlic, smashed
3 sprigs parsley
2 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
10 cups water, plus 1/3 cup boiling water, divided
Â½ cup cornmeal
1 4.25-ounce cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Â¼ cup milk, divided
1Â½ teaspoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (such as tarragon, chives, thyme and parsley)
Cut up the chicken: Remove the giblets, saving the neck (discard the remaining giblets, or save for another use). Using a pair of kitchen shears, cut along the back of the chicken, removing the backbone. Cut or break the backbone into thirds (this will help to flavor and thicken the broth). With a sturdy French knife or cleaver, halve the chicken lengthwise down the breast. Cut each chicken half into 4 pieces, separating the leg and thigh, and halving the breast crosswise (the wing can remain attached to the breast or separated). Sprinkle the chicken pieces (including the neck and back) with 1Â½ teaspoons salt and several grinds of pepper, evenly seasoning the pieces.
Heat a large, sturdy stockpot over high heat. When hot, add the olive oil and enough chicken to fit comfortably in a single layer. Brown the chicken on all sides, about 15 minutes (this will probably need to be done in 2 batches).
Remove the chicken to a bowl and repeat until all the chicken is browned.
Reduce the heat to medium-high. To the fat in the pot, add the chopped onion, carrots, celery and leek, cooking until the vegetables just begin to color, 8 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
Stir in the white wine and cook, scraping any flavoring from the bottom of the pan. Continue to cook until the wine is almost evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the garlic, 3 sprigs parsley, thyme and bay leaf to the pot and add back the chicken.
Pour in 10 cups water (this should more than cover the chicken), loosely cover the pot and bring the liquid to a boil
Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook, loosely covered, until the chicken is very tender, 45 minutes to an hour. Periodically skim the fat that forms on top of the broth as the chicken cooks.
When the chicken is tender, remove the pieces to a large plate or baking dish until cool enough to handle. Strain the chicken broth into a separate 3-quart pot, discarding the vegetables and herbs. You should have about 10 cups of broth. Skim any remaining fat from the broth, and season to taste.
Remove the skin from the chicken pieces and peel the meat from the bones.
Shred the meat into bite-sized pieces; you should have about 6 cups of chicken. Place the meat in a bowl and set aside while you make the dumpling batter.
To make the dumplings: In a medium bowl, whisk together the cornmeal and 1/3 cup boiling water. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside until the mixture cools, about 15 minutes. Stir in the flour, 1 teaspoon salt and the baking powder, breaking up any cornmeal clumps with your fingers. 10. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and 2 tablespoons milk. Pour the milk mixture into the medium bowl and drizzle over the lemon juice. Stir to combine then gently fold in the herbs until evenly distributed. This should form a thick batter (it should have the consistency of thick cement, sticky yet spoonable). Add more milk if needed to thin the batter, 1 tablespoon at a time. (You may not use all the milk.)
Bring the broth to a gentle simmer on the stove. Spoon 1-inch balls of the batter (the dumplings will expand as they cook) into the simmering broth; this makes about 20 dumplings.
The dumplings will sink at first but will soon float; continue to simmer, loosely covered, until they are just cooked through, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Strain the dumplings onto a large plate or baking dish. Add the shredded chicken back to the broth. Serve immediately, adding dumplings back to each serving.
Yield: Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 688 calories, 55 grams protein, 36 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 33 grams fat (8 grams saturated), 234 milligrams cholesterol, 5 grams sugar, 940 milligrams sodium.