I bought a whole chicken the other day and I was bored with roasted chicken and I hate cutting up a whole chicken, so I decided some sort of stew would save me from the dreaded task. I pulled a Louisiana cookbook off the shelf for inspiration and ended up making an old standby, chicken & dumplings.
This recipe from a good cookbook called Louisiana Real and Rustic, written in 1996 by Emeril Lagasse, before he became so overexposed you couldn't stand to look at him.
Chicken and Broth
1 large fryer (about 3 1/2 lbs)
2 cups coarsely chopped onions
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped celery
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped carrots
8 garlic cloves
3 bay leaves
4 quarts water
1 tablespoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Baking Powder Dumplings
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
2 tablespoons baking powder
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 1/4 cups flour
1 cup reserved vegetables
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cup milk
Put the chicken, onions, celery, carrots, garlic and bay leaves in a large kettle. Cover with water. Add the salt, black pepper, cayenne and thyme and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about 2 hours, or until the chicken is very tender. Remove from the heat.
Remove the chicken from the pot. With a slotted spoon, remove 1 cup of the vegetables from the pot. Set aside. When the chicken has cooled, skin and debone it. Set aside.
Beat together the egg and milk in a mixing bowl. Add the salt, pepper, baking powder and parsley. Mix well. Add the flour and mix to make a thick batter. Fold the reserved vegetables into the batter. Set aside.
Remove any fat that has risen to the surface of the broth. Return the chicken meat to the pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Dissolve the cornstarch in the milk and add to the pot. Stir and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat to medium.
Drop heaping tablespoons of the dumpling batter into the hot mixture, distributing the dumplings evenly, until all is used. When the dumplings rise to the surface, simmer and cook for 4 minutes, stirring gently, being careful not to break up the dumplings.
Remove the bay leaves and serve immediately in soup bowls.
Makes 8 servings.
note: I used fresh thyme because I didn't have any dried. I sometimes add baby peas at the end.