Shortcut Chicken & Dumplings

More weeknight comfort food! This dish uses rotisserie chicken meat and store-bought gnocchi as shortcuts to create a close match to traditional chicken and dumplings. It was quick to prepare and very tasty.

The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Alexa Weibel. I incorporated my CSA parsley, leeks, carrots, and collard greens. In addition, this soup could easily gobble up many other vegetables such as frozen peas, fennel, squash, parsnips, or mushrooms. We ate it with a green salad. Great.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 to 5 cups 1/2-inch ribbons of collard greens or kale, ribs removed (optional)
  • 2 medium carrots or 8 ounces butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 cup)
  • 1 medium leek, trimmed, white and pale green portion halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (about 1 cup) (can substitute 1 large shallot, if desired)
  • 2 medium celery stalks, peeled and sliced 1/2-inch thick (about 2/3 cup)
  • additional vegetables such as frozen peas, or diced parsnips, fennel, or mushrooms, optional
  • 3 to 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning (optional)(I omitted it)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 (16 to 18-ounce) package fresh or shelf-stable store-bought gnocchi (I used Trader Joe’s 17.6-ounce gnocchi)
  • 1/2 store-bought rotisserie chicken, skin and bones discarded, meat torn into bite-size pieces (about 2 to 3 cups shredded meat)
  • fresh tarragon, parsley or dill, for garnish

Ukrainian Winter Borscht with Vushka

We missed celebrating Christmas with our extended family this year. 😦

Traditionally, my Mother-in-Law makes all of us the meatless 12-dish Ukrainian Christmas Eve feast as part of our celebration. It is a beautiful dinner, but a major undertaking. I didn’t attempt to make the complete meal, but I did make a couple of the courses for our celebration at home. 🙂

Our meal began with a (mini) shot of vodka and a bite-sized piece of challah with honey. We ate this Winter Borscht with Vushka (mushroom-onion dumplings) followed by sauerkraut and potato-cheese pierogies, which my husband purchased from a local Polish store, as our main courses. I made my Mother-in-Law’s apple strudel for dessert, post to follow.

This recipe was adapted from Tom Birchard and Natalie Danford of NYC’s East Village restaurant Veselka, via The New York Times, contributed by Julia Moskin. (I gave my husband the Veselka cookbook for Christmas!) I incorporated some of the beets, puréed, into the finished soup. I used dumplings wrappers instead of making the dough for the dumplings. I also modified the Vushka proportions and technique.

I used beets from my CSA share for the soup, made it in advance and stored it in the freezer. I made the Vushka a day in advance and stored them in the refrigerator. The recipe states that the dumplings are optional; in my house they are essential! The soup had a spicy kick which may have been from the fresh garlic, which is incorporated at the end. I enjoyed it but may consider omitting the garlic next time.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

For the Borscht:

  • 2 pounds beets, trimmed and scrubbed (do not peel)
  • 3/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5 whole allspice berries
  • 1 tablespoon sugar, more to taste
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 ½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • coarse salt
  • mushroom and onion dumplings (Vushka)
  • chopped dill, for garnish, optional
  1. Coarsely chop beets, preferably in a food processor.
  2. In a medium pot, combine beets, 4 cups water and vinegar; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until beets are soft, about 45 minutes. Strain and set juice aside. (Beets can be used for another purpose, like salad.)(I puréed half of the strained beets in a Vitamix and incorporated them in the finished soup.)
  3. Meanwhile, in a deep pot, combine carrot, celery, onion, stock, bay leaves and allspice; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 45 minutes. Strain and discard aromatics and vegetables.
  4. Combine strained stock and beet juice and simmer 5 minutes.
  5. Add sugar, garlic (if using), and black pepper. Season to taste with sugar and salt.
  6. Add half of the reserved beets, puréed, into the finished soup, as desired.
  7. Serve with dumplings and sprinkle with dill, as desired.

For the Vushka (Ukrainian Mushroom & Onion Dumplings):

Yield: 80 to 100 dumplings

For the Filling:

  • 2 tablespoons dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, minced
  • 2 cups chopped button mushrooms
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

For the Dough: (I used Shanghai-style dumpling wrappers instead)

  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, more as needed

To Make the Filling:

  1. Place dried mushrooms in a small bowl and add 2 tablespoons of boiling water. Let soften, about 10 minutes. Strain, reserving liquid and mushrooms separately.
  2. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until golden but not brown, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add button mushrooms and cook, stirring, until mushrooms have released their liquid, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drain liquid.
  4. In a food processor, combine both kinds of mushrooms.
  5. Spoon in porcini liquid, leaving behind any silt in bottom of bowl.
  6. Pulse together until finely ground but not pasty: about 3 or 4 pulses. Add salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

To Make the Dough: (I used dumpling wrappers and continued at Step 8)

  1. In a small bowl, combine egg yolk, oil and 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water and whisk 1 minute.
  2. Place flour in a large bowl and make a well in center. Add a third of the egg mixture and lightly mix in with fingers or a fork. Repeat 2 more times.
  3. Using hands, fold dough together until soft: if crumbly, gently work in more water; if sticky, add flour.
  4. Transfer to a lightly floured board and knead 3 minutes.
  5. Form into a ball, transfer to a bowl and refrigerate 45 minutes.
  6. Lightly flour a work surface and a pan or board for the finished dumplings. Divide dough into 3 sections.
  7. Using a well-floured rolling pin, roll each section out until very thin and in a rough rectangle.
  8. Use tip of a sharp knife to cut dough into 1 1/2-inch squares. (I used a 1 1/2-inch square cookie cutter as a guide. Each dumpling wrapper yielded 2 squares. If using square dumpling wrappers, each one may be able to make 4 squares. Next time!)
  9. Cover the cut dough with plastic wrap so that it doesn’t dry out.
  10. Drain any excess liquid from filling. Place 1/4 teaspoon filling in center of each square. (I found it helpful to pre-scoop the filling and place it on a cutting board because it dried it out slightly.)
  11. Wet the edges of the dough and fold squares in half to form triangles, sealing filling inside.
  12. Pinch the 2 opposing corners together to seal tightly, use water if necessary.
  13. Place on a rimmed baking sheet lined with plastic wrap or a floured surface: do not stack.
  14. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.
  15. In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook dumplings until they float, 2 to 4 minutes. (If cooking frozen dumplings, cook until they rise to the surface and add 2 minutes.)
  16. Drain and serve in hot borscht, about 10 per serving, or just with sour cream.

Shortcut Chicken Stew with Fluffy Dumplings

This incredible comfort food dish uses rotisserie chicken meat as a shortcut. I made it even more of a shortcut by using my pre-made homemade stock, but I included the chicken stock instructions in the recipe below.

This recipe was loosely adapted from cookbook author Sheri Castle, via The Washington Post. The broth was rich and flavorful and the dumplings were the icing on the cake. Fluffy and fabulous. This is truly the perfect dish to serve on a cold winter night.

Yield: 6-8 servings

For the Stock & Stew:

  • 1 large rotisserie chicken (Costco size) or 2 small rotisserie chickens
  • 4 cups cold water (to make the stock) or 4 cups or homemade poultry stock (for a shortcut)
  • 8 cups low-sodium chicken stock (store-bought or homemade) (4 cups if using pre-made homemade stock)
  • 3 large thyme sprigs (to make stock)
  • 2-3 tsp Kosher salt, plus more as needed, divided
  • 1 T white wine vinegar
  • 1 T unsalted butter
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
  • 2 medium ribs celery, thinly sliced (about 3/4 cup)
  • 2 medium carrots, scrubbed well and cut into thin rounds (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 T fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, or more as needed

For the Dumplings:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
  • 6 T unsalted butter, cut into small cubes and chilled
  • 3/4 cup half-and-half
  • chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

For the Stock & Stew:

  1. Pull the meat from the chicken(s) and tear it into largish bite-size pieces; cover and refrigerate until needed.
  2. I substituted/used 4 cups of homemade turkey stock instead of making stock with the chicken carcass. *If making the chicken stock base, place the carcass and skin in a large saucepan or small pot. Add the cold water, 8 cups broth, thyme sprigs and 1 teaspoon of the salt; bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and cook, uncovered, for about an hour, until the carcass falls apart and the liquid reduces to about 8 cups and tastes like rich chicken soup. Strain the broth through a fine-mesh strainer into a large saucepan; discard solids.*
  3. If using pre-made stock, combine the 4 cups homemade stock with 4 cups of store-bought chicken stock. Stir the vinegar into the stock, season with salt and pepper to taste, and keep warm on the lowest heat setting.
  4. Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, carrots, thyme leaves and a pinch of salt, stirring to coat. Cook for 8 minutes, or until vegetables begin to soften, stirring often.
  5. Add the 8 cups stock and cook for 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Carefully watch the heat to ensure that the stock doesn’t boil over.
  6. Season with 1 teaspoon salt (or more, to taste) and the pepper.
  7. Stir in the reserved shredded rotisserie chicken meat; reduce the heat to low.

For the Dumplings & to Finish the Dish:

  1. Whisk together the flours, baking powder, salt, sugar and pepper in a medium bowl.
  2. Work in the butter with a pastry blender or your fingertips until the mixture is crumbly.
  3. Add the half-and-half and stir only until combined to form a soft, sticky dough.
  4. Bring the chicken stew to a boil over medium-high heat. Use a 1-ounce scoop (I used a large cookie scoop) or two soup spoons to drop golf-ball-size dumplings evenly over the surface of the stew. The hot liquid seals the dumplings so that they rise instead of spread.
  5. Reduce the heat to medium; cover and cook for 20 to 25 minutes or until the dumplings are firm, fluffy and somewhat dry on top. Don’t be tempted to lift the lid- if the heat escapes, the dumplings may deflate.
  6. Uncover and let stand for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and serve warm.

Spinach Spaetzle with Bacon and Sage

This comfort food dish is truly season-less. It’s the easiest fresh pasta recipe EVER. These little German dumplings, or batter noodles, are cooked in minutes. The noodles can be prepared several hours in advance- finishing the dish by sautéing them with bacon and sage just prior to serving.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by David Tanis. I modified the cooking method by using a potato ricer to form the noodles. In addition, I increased the spinach as well as the water in the batter. We ate it as a main dish but it would also be delicious as an indulgent side dish.

Yield: 6 servings

Time: about 1 hour

  • 6 ounces baby spinach leaves
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 egg yolks
  • coarse salt
  • ¼ tsp grated nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 3 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 ounces bacon or pancetta, cut crosswise into thin slices
  • 4 T unsalted butter
  • 12 fresh sage leaves
  • grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, for serving
  1. Drop spinach leaves into boiling water to blanch, about 30 seconds, then transfer to a bowl of ice water to cool. Drain spinach and squeeze dry.
  2. Put cooked spinach in a blender or food processor with the eggs and yolks and blitz briefly to make a green purée.
  3. Put spinach purée in a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, the nutmeg and the pepper.
  4. Beat in flour and 3/4 cup cold water to make a wet, sticky batter-like dough. Beat for 5 minutes, until lump free. If the mixture seems too stiff, beat in a few more tablespoons cold water. (Because I used a potato ricer, I thinned the batter to a more runny consistency by incorporating an additional 3 T of water.)
  5. Leave batter to rest at room temperature, covered, for 15 minutes. Prepare an ice-water bath. Place a colander within the ice-water bath.
  6. Bring a large wide pot of well-salted water to a boil.
  7. Holding the potato ricer over the boiling water, fill it with 1-2 ladles of batter; close and press the batter into the water. IMG_3886
  8. Let the spaetzle cook for 1 minute or so, until they rise to the surface. Remove with a skimmer and immediately cool in the colander in the ice water. Continue until all batter is used. Drain cooked spaetzle and blot dry. (I placed the spaetzle on a rimmed baking sheet which was lined with several layers of paper-towels.) *Note: The recipe may be prepared up to this point several hours before serving.*
  9. Just before serving, set a large wide skillet over medium-high heat. Add bacon and let it render without browning much, about 2 minutes. Pour off fat and leave bacon in pan. (To decrease the mess, I wiped out the fat with paper towels.)
  10. Add the butter and let it foam, then add sage leaves and let sizzle for 30 seconds.
  11. Add the cooked spaetzle and sauté, stirring with a wooden spoon until heated through and lightly browned.
  12. Transfer to a warm serving bowl, if desired. Serve immediately with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Three Years Ago:

Chicken Goulash with Biscuit Dumplings

IMG_3860

This dish was HOT. Super spicy. I was so excited to get my hands on both sweet and hot Hungarian paprika- and then even more excited to find a dish (Food & Wine Magazine’s “Best One-Pot Dish” no less) that incorporated hot paprika. Well, I don’t know if my paprika was just too fresh…

I am a fan of spicy food, but my family had to slather this spicy gravy with sour cream in order to eat it. :/ A lot of water was consumed as well. :/ I thought that the sour cream in both the sauce and the biscuits would temper the heat- or by eating each bite along with part of a fabulously moist and tender biscuit would be enough…

BUT- after saying all of that- this dish was so wonderful it definitely deserves to be made again. Smell- AMAZING. Biscuits- AMAZING. I would modify the recipe by using 1 tablespoon of hot Hungarian paprika along with 1 tablespoon of sweet paprika next time. This recipe was adapted from a Food and Wine “staff-favorite” recipe, contributed by Grace Parisi.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 2-inch pieces (I used 10 thighs)
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 5 T cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup sour cream (I used light)
  • 1 large yellow or white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 T hot Hungarian paprika (I would substitute 1 T sweet for half of the hot next time)
  • 3/4 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1/2 tsp dry thyme or 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and dust lightly with flour.
  2. In a deep ovenproof skillet (I used enameled cast iron), melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in the olive oil. Add the chicken and cook over high heat, turning once, until browned on both sides, 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a plate.
  3. Meanwhile, in a food processor, pulse the 1 1/2 cups of flour with the baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Pulse in the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
  4. Whisk 1/2 cup of the stock with 1/2 cup of the sour cream and drizzle over the dry ingredients; pulse until a dough forms.
  5. Add the onion, bell pepper and garlic to the skillet and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 minutes.
  6. Return the chicken to the skillet. Stir in the paprika and caraway and cook for 30 seconds. Add the remaining 2 cups of chicken stock and 1/2 cup of sour cream and stir until smooth. Add the thyme and bring to a boil.
  7. Scoop twelve 3-tablespoon-size mounds of biscuit dough over the chicken. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and the biscuits are cooked. If biscuits are not golden, turn on the broiler and broil for about 2 minutes, until the biscuits are golden. (I omitted this step.)
  8. Serve the goulash in bowls, spooning the biscuits on top.

IMG_3863

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Collard Greens with Dumplings

The bacon, chipotle, and collards all work well together in this dish, and the dumplings balance the spiciness. I have made this dish using all collard greens, but also with a combination of collards, bok choy, escarole, and chicory greens from my CSA share. It think that this is a great dish to make to gobble up tons of greens! 🙂

This recipe was adapted from CHOW.com. I chopped the chipotle chiles before incorporating to add heat. I also replaced some of the water with chicken stock.

Yield: 4 servings

For the collard greens:

  • 8 ounces bacon, medium dice
  • 1 medium yellow or Vidalia onion, medium dice
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 2 chipotle chiles, with adobo sauce, left whole or chopped for added spiciness
  • 3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
  • 1 cup chicken stock, plus 1 cup water
  • 2+ pounds collard greens, tough stems removed, washed, and cut into bite-sized pieces (or any combination of mixed greens)

For the dumplings:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

For the greens:

  1. Place the bacon in a 10-inch Dutch oven or a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. (I used a large enameled cast iron Dutch oven.) Cook, stirring occasionally, until brown and crisp, about 15 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper-towel-lined plate and discard all but 3 tablespoons of the bacon fat in the pot.
  2. Add the onion, garlic, chiles, and measured salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is tender and beginning to brown, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Add the stock and water, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Stir in the greens a handful at a time, adding more as they wilt, until they’re all in the pot.
  4. Cover with a tight fitting lid, reduce the heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the greens are very tender and almost falling apart, about 20 minutes for collard greens or about 10 minutes for a combination of mixed greens. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as needed.

For the dumplings:

  1. When the greens are ready, place the flour, baking soda, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk to combine.
  2. Add the buttermilk and melted butter and stir until the flour mixture is moistened and a soft dough forms.
  3. Drop the dough in heaping tablespoons, about 8-9 dumplings, about 1/2 inch apart into the simmering greens. (I used a large ice cream scoop.)
  4. Cover and simmer until the dumplings are cooked through and the tops are no longer sticky, about 10 minutes.
  5. Remove the whole chipotle pods from the pot, if desired.
  6. Sprinkle the greens and dumplings with the reserved bacon and serve immediately.

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