So, hump day dinner. That pesky middle of the week meal that comes after I’ve already tapped my weekend leftovers to make a casserole on Monday, and used up my Tuesday night standby of pasta. At this point in the week I’m usually too busy to even think about dinner; this is when I need an idea to make dinner work with as little stress, time, and effort as possible. And sure, we could order out, but I’m trying to save some bucks here.
First of all, let me say upfront that I am no (choose any one) “Pioneer Woman,” Rachel Ray, Martha Stewart, or one of my foodie blogging pals, “Stop her she’s knitting,” or “Somewhere in Between.” My photography stinks, and I nearly always forget to shoot a step.
But I’ve had a few friends ask me what I cook during a busy week, and because I know most of us do not have a live-in chef, and most of us haven’t a clue what dinner will be, even as we drive home from work or picking kiddos up from school/activities, I thought I’d share some of my ace-in-the hole meals.
If you’re still with me, first recipe up is that old time favorite (which I personally just discovered because my mother never made it), Chicken and Dumplings.
Do you know how many different recipes for Chicken and Dumplings live out there on the internet? Scads. I got 13 million choices, according to Google. Here’s my tried and true interpretation of a simple, satisfying, and economical dish that takes a little less than one hour from pot to plate (you’ll actually want a nice deep dish/bowl to eat this from).
Middle of the Week Chicken and Dumplings
Part One (the chicken)
6 to 8 bone-in thighs with skin
1 onion, quartered
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch chunks
2 large stalks celery cut into 2 inch chunks
1/4 cup dry white wine or sherry
1 bay leaf
3 or 4 sprigs fresh thyme (or about 1 tsp dry, but fresh is better) tied up in a bunch
1/2 tsp sweet paprika
6 cups chicken broth (you can also use water and your favorite bouillion)
1 heaping cup frozen peas
Salt and Pepper
Oval or Round Dutch Oven
Salt and pepper your chicken thighs well, and place them skin side down in the hot dutch oven to brown.
When your thighs are good and golden (dear, that sounds naughty…oh well), turn them, let them sizzle a couple of minutes, and pour on the wine.
When the alcohol has burned off (about a minute), scatter your veggies on top, herbs and spice, tuck the bay leaf in among the thighs, and pour on the 6 cups of broth. Cover the pot and bring to lively simmer. Simmer 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix up your dumplings…
Part Two (the dumplings)
1 cup milk
2 cups flour (I use whole wheat, but all purpose works great, though you might need a little more to get the correct consistency)
1 tsp salt
1 Tbs baking powder
In a mixing bowl beat 2 eggs well, add the milk and salt and beat until well combined. Add the flour and the baking powder and mix them in until completely combined but don’t over mix the dough (like muffins). Dumpling dough should be sticky and thick.
After the chicken has simmered 25 minutes and your dumpling dough is ready, remove the lid and add the frozen peas into the hot broth. Then plop rounded tablespoons of the dumpling dough across the top of the chicken and veggies, one beside the other, but not touching, covering the surface. Bring the broth back to a simmer, then close the lid over it all and let the dumplings steam 10 to 15 minutes before you finally lift the lid to serve. The dumplings will have puffed up into big fluffy pillows over the top of the stew.
Serve as shown above, sprinkling a bit of chopped fresh parsley atop it as a garnish, if you like. Be sure to add a good bit of broth to each serving for the dumplings to soak up.
Hope you like it and it gets you over the weekly “what to make for dinner” hump. I also highly recommend it for a blustery day, or a day you need a little extra comfort. 2 cups flour