Saturday, August 8, 2009
Tonight's Menu: chicken soup with tarragon-walnut dumplings
Tonight, the wife is post-call and exhausted. It's always good to have a hearty, rib-sticking sort of meal when you're post-call. So, I'm making chicken and dumplings.
My recipe is a little bit different from the norm, though. For the chicken, I use boneless chicken thighs. These little beauties give you all the dark flavor of the thigh meat - so much better than a measly old chicken breast - without all the bones. And they're cheap! Can't beat that. I heat up a little oil in a large Dutch oven and brown them lightly on both sides. When they're done, I take them out of the pan and add a mirepoix, deglazing with a little white wine or vermouth. Once the vegetables are soft (but not brown) the chicken gets cut up morsels and returned to the pot with its juices. The whole mixture gets covered generously with chicken stock and is brought to a boil, and in go the dumplings. Once they float and look puffy on both sides, dinner is ready.
The dumplings are my favorite part of making this meal. While I use Bisquick just for the speed of things, I like to dress 'em up with some finely chopped tarragon. That soft, anise-like flavor is a pretty classic-French with chicken. For today's batch, I tried something new: walnut. Tarragon and walnut go together pretty well in a variety of recipes, so I thought why not my dumplings? I took some chopped walnuts and ground them up in my spice/coffee grinder, and worked them into the Bisquick with the tarragon before adding the milk. I'd expect that they'll float a little more easily than regular dumplings because of the fattiness from the walnuts - I made butter-recipe dumplings once and they didn't even sink into the soup. But they smell fantastic.
I've got the mirepoix chopped, the chicken thawed, and the dumpling dough made, all resting in the fridge for tonight's meal. We'll either have a sweet red table wine we bought on our honeymoon, or a Riesling I picked up at the store today.