Inspired by a similar idea on a friend’s blog, I decided I would do a 30-Day Food Challenge. I love to experiment with food. I’ve eaten a vegetarian diet, a pescetarian diet, a dairy-free diet, a low-carb diet, a low-fat diet, etc. Each temporary modification challenges me to think about food differently – I learn more about different flavor combinations, cultures, products on the market, and my own food likes/dislikes. To complete this food challenge, I came up with 30 different ideas and put them in a container. We’ll take turns drawing ideas from the container each day (for the next day) and follow what it says.
Food Challenge Day 1 ~ Make a comfort food.
Richard quickly suggested Chicken & Dumplings, something I believe I have made maybe once, so I quickly found a recipe and modified it based on the ingredients we had in the fridge/freezer/pantry.
For the chicken stew:
1 whole chicken, broken down
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 quart chicken stock
2 celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large onion, chopped
6 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 t fresh thyme
salt & pepper to taste
For the dumplings:
2 cups unbleached flour
2 t baking powder
3/4 t salt
2 T butter, melted
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup minced fresh chives
1. Heat the chicken stock to a gentle simmer in a medium pot.
2. In a separate, large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Pat the chicken pieces dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Brown the chicken pieces, placing the pieces skin-side down first. This will render out fat you will use to build the stew later.
3. Once the chicken pieces are browned on both sides, remove them from the large pot, and turn off the heat. Remove and discard the skin from the chicken pieces and put the chicken pieces into the pot of simmering stock. Poach the chicken in the stock until cooked through, about 20 minutes or so. Remove the chicken pieces and set on a tray to cool for a few minutes. When the chicken pieces are cool to touch, pull the meat off the bones and shred. Set aside.
4. Take the rendered chicken fat, pass it through a strainer to remove bits, and place in the large pot. Return the heat to medium-high. When it is hot, add the onion, celery, carrot and thyme and sauté until soft, but not browned, about 4-5 minutes. Add the flour and mix well. The flour will absorb all the fat in the pot and will stick a little to the bottom. Turn the heat to medium-low and stir this constantly for 2-3 minutes.
5 Get a ladle ready and have the pot of simmering chicken stock nearby. Add one ladle of hot chicken stock at a time, stirring well between each addition to make a gravy. Add the reserved chicken meat. Simmer.
6. Make the dumpling batter by sifting together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Add chopped fresh chives. Add melted butter and milk to the dry ingredients. Use your hands to combine until mixture just comes together.
7. Drop dumpling batter into the simmering stew by heaping teaspoonfuls, over the surface of the stew. Cover and simmer until dumplings are cooked through, about 15 minutes.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.