Chicken 'n Dumplings (& Budget Meals Idea)

I haven't posted a recipe in a LONG time...probably because I haven't been cooking in my own kitchen lately. And what little cooking I have been doing is limited to smoked sausage stir-fries. And while, we love them, it's not really anything to write home about. Or blog about.

This, though, was very good. We've been soaked by hurricane Joaquin this weekend, and before that we were soaked by just plain ole rain. (We've got mud two inches deep everywhere.) So we wanted something warm and hearty for dinner. And I love chicken 'n dumplings soup, so I decided to put it together. It's always iffy that it'll turn out right, but this time, it did!

Before I start to share the recipe, though, I want to show you how I get a couple cheap meals every week. Chicken leg quarters are the cheapest cuts since most people want breasts. Around here, I can get a large pack for 97¢ a pound (by the way, I just learned how to type the cent sign! Cool, huh? Press and hold alt and type 0162), and when it's on sale it's 69¢ a pound. We get a good amount of use out of one pack, which usually has 5 or 6 leg quarters in it. (No, it's not organic meat, I wish I could afford such.) To do this, I boil them.

I'll put all the quarters in my stock pot, and cover them with water. It's also possible to do this with a crock pot if you have a big enough one. I'll gently boil them all day or night, strain the broth, and pull all the meat off the bones. Now I have a potful of broth and pile of meat! I can freeze the broth, or use it that week, and the meat is good for lots of things. Plain meat makes good sandwiches for lunches, or I can mix up some of Grandma's chicken salad. I can also use some for dinners, like stir-fry (yes, we eat a lot of stir-fries here) or I can make some...soup!

(Nice transition, huh?) For this chicken and dumplings soup, I started with a hot pot, and some butter and olive oil. I chopped up a sweet onion, and some carrots (six, I think), and added some minced garlic all to the hot pot. I let those cook until the onions were translucent.

Now, I poured all of my fresh broth into my pot. I took a couple handfuls of my chicken, and kind of ripped it up as I added it to the pot, and threw in a couple of bay leaves.

I let that come to a gentle boil, and let it simmer for a couple hours. (I love meals that only take a few minutes every once in a while.) Once I was almost ready to eat, I mixed up a batch of biscuit dough. I just omitted the honey in that recipe, just because I felt like it. I turned the soup up to a medium boil and dropped spoonfuls of biscuit dough into the boiling broth. If it stopped boiling, I waited until it started again before adding more dough.

I let those boil for about 15 minutes, and then seasoned my soup with a good amount of salt and pepper, Jeremy also added thyme, rosemary, and some celery seed.

That biscuit recipe makes a lot of dumplings, but I had almost a gallon of broth. For our family of 6, this batch of soup made enough for three meals. I could have frozen some for later, but it was so good, we just kept eating it. It's so filling too; perfect to ward off this rainy weather.

And I still have a bunch of chicken to work with! If I do anything extraordinary, I'll share, but it most likely will be chicken sandwiches. Or I might make a chicken shepherd's pie; I really do love shepherd's pie!

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