Autumn is in full swing and my allergies are going bezerk, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t love this time of year any less. And I’m sure Merck doesn’t mind my monthly stock on allergy meds due to the molding leaves and wacky weather. Tennessee weather enjoys the occasional roll of the dice, never staying in exactly the right box according to the equinox. But twenty-nine years later and I still find myself having to adjust (#sadface). Despite the effects this time of year has on my health I still love it for the beauty that it brings.
Autumn crept in our back doors this year and didn’t make much of a scene. You could find her trace at the end of summer with the tumble of scarlet leaves across your shoe or a subtle chill across your cheek. I’m a fool for a reason to pull out the heavy blankets, make excessive amounts of french press, and drive slowly on the back roads.
This time of year I find myself to be in a constant state of uneasiness. I’ve never been able to pinpoint it but once fall-back is in full force. I find myself twiddling my thumbs more than usual I could blame it on the dark arriving during the five o’clock hour or the weather’s cooling that causes me to slow down. But there’s nothing I want more than to sit on the couch, drink coffee and read food literature. I crave a simple life where hustle and bustle isn’t at the center of it all. Though I am clearly living in an era where this sort of lifestyle is no longer existent, or maybe it is?
One of the best things about the cool weather settling in, is the desire for comfort foods. Hearty dishes that we avoided all summer for the sake of our beach bodies. And now the guilt that once had you chained no longer bounds you when reaching for that hidden jar of Nutella (secrets out!). When I think of some of my favorite cold-weather eats, chicken and dumplings is pretty high on the list. This dish was and is still a childhood favorite. In the past few months I have been collecting chicken stock from roasting chicken for other dishes. You won’t a more flavorful rendition than collecting the jus from roasted chicken itself. Not only that but the fat that surfaces to the top, also known as schmaltz is a fantastic by-product when collecting the juice. The only thing to make this any better would be the leftover gribenes but that’s a whole nother conversation.
What’s your favorite cold-weather comfort foods?
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary (fresh)
smidgen of kosher salt
4 tablespoons schmaltz (chilled chicken fat)
3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon buttermilk
2 quarts chicken broth
1 whole roasted bird
2 bay leaves
1. preheat oven to 400 degrees. Follow Instructions here for Simple Roasted Chicken.Once chicken has cooled. Remove the meat from the bone and set aside.
2.Bring your 2 quarts of chicken stock and bay leaves to a rolling simmer. Remove bay leaves before adding dumplings.
3. Combine the flour, baking powder,kosher salt and rosemary in a bowl. Pinch the schmaltz and the flour together using your index finger and thumb.Until mixture starts to resemble coarse cornmeal.
Side Note:I enjoy getting dirty when making dough so leave the food processor under the sink.
4. Slowly add buttermilk a little at a time until dough begins to form. You may not necessarily use all of the buttermilk. Use your best judgement. The dough should be slightly moist and tacky. Roll the dough onto a floured surface. I usually dip my hands in flour to work with the dough better and cover my rolling pin in flour as well. Roll dumplings somewhere between 1/8″ and 1/4″ of inch thick. I like to roll them really thin because once they absorb liquid they slightly expand and I like thin dumplings. Cut the dumplings using some fancy gadget, a pizza cutter or a pairing knife into 1″X1″ squares or larger if you prefer. You may also go grandma’s route and forget the rolling all together, then you would just simply “pinch” the dough into the pot. Which can be fun as well. Decisions. Decisions.
5. Drop the dumplings into the hot broth and allow to cook for about 10-15 minutes. You may need to remove a dumpling or two to check for done-ness and the dumplings should be wet on the outside and a biscuity-moistness on the inside. The residual flour from your dumplings will thicken your broth as you go. I like to swirl the broth as I drop in the dumplings, kinda like poaching eggs. Once dumplings are finished, add the pulled chicken. Dinner is served. Yum!
Also if you like a thicker, creamier version of this soup then simply whisk together 1/2 a cup flour and enough water to form a runny pasty mixture. This could be called a roux or slurry(tomato…tomatuh). You are going to whisk this ‘slowly’ into your chicken and dumplings until desired consistency is reached.
Extras: On day two of eating leftovers, the wife and I like our veggies. So I will dice some carrots and potatoes. Gently boil them in water with a couple of chicken bouillon cubes(to add flavor) and add that to my soup. Cornbread also makes a yummy addition. You’ll never want to leave the house with a bowl of this in hand. Enjoy!