24 April 2012

Eats: crockpot chicken & dumplings

[Quick blog house-keeping update... I’m inexplicably having trouble with Blogger posting my posts as they’re scheduled at 6AM daily. So I apologize for any delays, and if you want to join me in thumping Blogger on the forehead, I’d appreciate it.]

It’s been a bit chilly around here the past week or so. Well, I suppose “chilly” is a relative term. In this case, it means “OH MY GOSH WARM UP SO I CAN FINISH ALL THIS OUTDOOR PAINTING SO WE CAN GET OUR HOUSE ON THE MARKET, GEEZ LOUISE.”

As you can imagine, both the cold weather and the stress are good reasons for craving comfort food. Bonus for hands-off preparation, as my hands are typically covered in stain and primer!

I found this recipe, originally here, from a childhood friend’s food blog when she issued a Pinterest-food-challenge for herself. When she mentioned this challenge I thought it was a fantastic idea, until I realized that pretty much everything I write about here was found through Pinterest already. Perhaps I’ll issue myself a recipe-book challenge? Goodness knows I have a treasure trove in my kitchen cabinet. We’ll see, dear readers.

Anyway, this recipe couldn’t be easier. Start by mixing two cans of cream of chicken soup, one can of chicken broth (I used 2 cups from a bulk container), and plenty of onion (I used dried minced onion) in your crockpot.

Add in two chicken breasts. I’ve heard conflicting reports on whether it’s safe to add them in the crock while frozen; some say they’re at a middling, bacteria-happy temperature for too long if they aren’t pre-thawed. I say that I’ve worked with bacteria in the lab enough to know when it’s unsafe, so I add straight from frozen, but consider my cavalier attitude toward food safety dis-claimed.

I realize how unappetizing those two above photos look, but I’m including them for the sake of a magical before-and-after transformation. It doesn’t look tasty now, but just you wait!

To get a serving a veggies in there, I also added about 6 oz. (half a bag) of frozen veggies, a blend of carrots, peas, green beans, and corn. Then I cooked it on high for about two and a half hours until the chicken was nearly done. My crock is crazy hot, though; your crock may take a bit longer.

Then it’s dumpling time! Making the dumplings is as easy as cutting up a package of butter-flavored biscuits. Each biscuit gets cut into 9 pieces. That seemed small to me, but they really do puff up while cooking!

Then they get added back into the crock for an hour, which was my big mistake. My friend’s blog says to cook them for an hour, while the original source says thirty minutes. I was following the original source, and even though my crock seems to burn with the fire of a bazillion suns and cook everything faster, thirty minutes was not enough to cook the biscuits. So: an hour it is, on high!

While the biscuits are cooking, shred up the chicken, and then add it back in for the last few minutes of biscuit-cooking so everything is flavor-meld-y (these are technical kitchen terms I’m using):

Add in a bit of salt, if you want, and a lot of pepper to taste (I think cream-of-something soups need a lot of pepper to perk them up). And you’re done! That’s it, an easy-peasy recipe for chicken and dumplings!

How did we like it? Well, as I alluded to above, the biscuit-dumplings were underdone. If they’d had another thirty minutes, they would have been perfect. Other than that, I thought it was quite tasty, especially because it required so little hands-on time. This exceeded the flavor-to-work ratio nicely! Mr. P was meh about it, but you can’t really expect him to get excited about soups or stews. He ate it for dinner and let me eat up the leftovers – but that says more about Mr. P than the recipe itself.

But if you do like chicken and dumplings and easy recipes, this is a great way to make it! Enjoy!