Quick bit of trivia for you; which president promised “A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage”? Give up? Before you google, it was Herbert Hoover. Old Herbie was on to something because a chicken in a pot is a mighty good thing. On a day when you are going to be around the house, think about making chicken stock and then chicken and dumplings. Homemade stock is so much better than its canned cousin and the chicken used to flavor it up is perfect for C & D. Plan on being around your home for at least half a day, but actual cooking time for you is pretty small; the pot does the work on the stove largely unattended. I made up a batch yesterday and here is my recipe – feel free to tweak it*:
1 young chicken – about 3.5 pounds
Six carrots – unpeeled
2 onions – peeled and quartered
6 cloves of garlic – peeled and halved
1 bulb of fennel – sliced
Handful of chopped fennel tops
Water to cover – approximately 1 1/2 gallons
3 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons course cracked pepper
1 tsp dried thyme
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 c cream
1/4 c milk
2 tbs butter, cold
Herbs de Provence, optional
In a large stockpot, bring first 10 ingredients to a boil and then reduce heat to a low simmer. Simmer for four hours, skimming the top as necessary.
Remove the solids and reserve. Pour three quarts of stock for use in other recipes into containers suitable for chilling and freezing. (Chill your stock in the fridge overnight. Skim the fat and then freeze the stock for later use.) Place remaining stock (approximately 2 quarts) back in the stock pot (or dutch oven), place on low heat. When solids are cool enough to handle, remove chicken meat and shred it. Place chicken back in the remaining stock. Carrots may be added back in if desired. Discard rest of solids.
Add two tablespoons of olive oil to a non-stick saute pan. Chop onion and add to oil when hot. Sprinkle with kosher salt and cook for 4 minutes or until onions are transluscent. Add to stock pot. Slice potatoes thinly. Add to stock pot. Simmer on low for at least 45 minutes prior to serving (I let mine go for 1 1/2 hours).
Dumplings: Dumplings should be added right before dining. Allow eight minutes of covered cooking after the following:
Mix flour, salt and baking powder in a small bowl. Add butter, coursely chopped, to the flour. Using your hands, work the butter into the flour, leaving it no larger than a pea. Add cream and milk, stir in 1 tsp of herbs (if desired). Dough will be sticky. Using a large spoon, spoon out some dough and shape it into a ball in your palm. Add the dumplings to your simmering pot, cook for eight minutes. Serve immediately. Serves 6 – 8.
* I used a stock recipe from Ina Garten with some changes – I don’t like celery but you can add in some chopped celery ribs if you like it. I also modified a C&D recipe by Cathy Lowe, found at Food Network.com