Chicken and Dumplings

Since Jon's sick and the weather has finally started to feel like fall here in North Carolina, I decided to make chicken and dumplings for dinner tonight.  I love chicken and dumplings when it's cold outside and when I am sick, so I thought it Jon might enjoy it too.  I had a real internal debate in the grocery store over whether I should buy a whole chicken or just chicken breasts.  The cheap girl on one shoulder was telling me to get the whole chicken because it was less than $3 on sale at Harris Teeter.  The girly girl on the other shoulder was telling me to get the breasts because it wouldn't involve me pulling out any chicken parts.  The cheap girl won and I bought the whole chicken.  I also bought pre-made, frozen dumplings.  I knew I was making this after work and time was not on my side.  I much prefer made-from-scratch dumplings, but Anne's Dumplings are actually pretty good and they are made in North Carolina, which I love.

Pulling the giblets out of the chicken wasn't as gross as I thought it would be, thank goodness.  And I couldn't resist making the chicken dance and having Jon take pictures of it. It's really all about the little things that make me laugh.

 Dancing Chicken

Flying Chicken

Ingredients:
1 whole chicken
1 package frozen dumplings (unless you want to make from scratch)
Salt
Pepper
Oregano
1 1/2 cup Flour or Cornstarch 
1/2 cup Milk

The milk and flour are completely optional depending on the consistency you want.  If you like a brothier (is that even a word?) chicken and dumplings, you can skip the flour and milk, but if you like a creamier consistency, you'll want the milk and flour. 

First boil a pot of water. I recommend using the biggest stock pot you own.  I made the mistake of using our second biggest pot and the water would often boil over, which can be annoying when you have a gas stovetop.  

Next, pull out the chicken giblets and rinse the chicken thoroughly.  I debated on skinning the chicken before boiling it, but decided to keep the skin on for boiling.  That fat does add flavor and its easier to skin a chicken once it's already cooked.

Once the water is boiling, place the chicken in and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and oregano to your liking.  I boiled it for 20 minutes on one side, the flipped it over for another 20 minutes.

While the chicken was boiling, I took the extra time to sanitized my countertops.  Even though I had the chicken on a cutting board, some juice spilled onto my countertop.  That was just asking for someone to get salmonella, so I used some extra strong, antibacterial, bleach based cleaner to kill any germs that might have been just hanging out.  Also, I washed my hands about 13 times while cooking this meal with antibacterial soap.  No salmonella for me please!

After the chicken finishes boiling, remove it from the broth and set it off to the side to cool. Let the broth cool as well, then strain into a bowl to remove any chicken fat or bits that may be left. You can either skim some of the excess fat off the top of the broth or attempt to strain with cheese cloth. I tried the latter and it did not work well for me!

When the chicken has cooled down, start pulling chicken from the bone and place off to the side.



Add the broth back into stock pot and add enough water to equal about 5 quarts, then bring to a boil.  Take the frozen dumplings out of the freezer and let sit for about 5 minutes, then separate the dumplings.  Anne's dumplings are super easy to separate.



Add 10 dumplings to the boiling broth and wait for the broth to come back to a boil.  Add 10 more dumplings, bring to a boil again and continue until all dumplings have been added into the broth.  Boil dumplings for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep the dumplings from sticking.



Add chicken, a few more dashes of salt and pepper and boil 3 more minutes.  If you want a thicker batch, whisk flour and milk together and add into the pot.  You could also add in a can of cream of chicken - it's really just about preference.  Boil 2 more minutes, then remove from heat.

Let stand for 15-20 minutes.



Since Jon's sick, I made this batch a little less creamier than I prefer since broth is great for a sore throat.  Jon and I enjoyed it with a little extra salt, pepper, and a dash or two of Frank's Hot Sauce.  I like the little extra kick the hot sauce gives it!

Next time I make this recipe, I plan to make my dumplings from scratch.  Once I do, I'll provide an update with the dumpling recipe and any changes it may make to the recipe overall.

And now that I know how easy it is to cook a whole chicken, I am going to start buying them more often! I'm not a fan of boiled chicken unless it's in this or soup, but I could easily separate the chicken to grill, bake, fry, etc.  The chicken I bought was on sale for $0.59 a pound, but even at full price, a whole chicken is only about $6 at Harris Teeter.  Such a bargain when I've been paying more than that for 3 chicken breasts!

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