Real American Meal

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I recently just realized the beauty of the crock-pot.  I don’t know what it is about cooking a little, tossing everything in a pot, then coming back to a perfectly cook meal that gets me so excited, but I can’t believe it took me this long to realize my love for it.  Sure my mom had mad me slow cooker meals back in the day, but I just didn’t appreciate them.  It’s also perfect timing for me to discover my new found love.  Chilly Sunday’s make me pop out of bed and skip to the kitchen to cook or should I say slow cook.

This Sunday I did another first.  I made chicken and dumplings.  I don’t think I’ve ever even really had good honest home made chicken and dumplings—unless you count Cracker Barrel.  So when it was cooking and I started to get my first wiffs, I was surprised by how rich it smelled and then when I took my first bite I was absolutely blown away with the depth of flavor.  With every bite I just kept saying “I can’t believe I have not made this before” and then I would say that again while shoving another spoonful into my mouth.  The only reason why I’m hoping it stays cool is to make this meal.  I take that back; this meal would still be amazing in the summer.

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America’s Test Kitchen Chicken and Dumplings

3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed

salt and pepper

3 tbs vegetable oil

2 onions, minced

2 celery ribs, sliced ¼ inch thick

6 garlic cloves, minced

1 tbs tomato paste

2 tsp minced fresh thyme

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

¼ cup dry sheery

4 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth, plus extra as needed

4 carrots, peeled and sliced ¼ inch thick

2 bay leaves

1 cup frozen peas

3 tbs minced fresh parsley

Dumplings

2 cup all-purpose flour

1 tbs baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 cup whole milk

3 tbs unsalted butter

  1. For the stew:  Dry chicken with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-heat until just smoking.  Brown half of chicken lightly on both sides, 5 to 8 minutes; transfer to a bowl.  Repeat with 1 tablespoon more oil and remaining chick; transfer to bowl.
  1. Heat remaining tablespoon oil over medium-high heat until simmering.  Add onions, celery, garlic, tomato paste, and thyme, and cook until vegetables are softened and lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes.  Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute.  Slowly whisk in sherry, scraping up any browned bits.  Whisk in 1 cup broth, smoothing out lumps; transfer to slow cooker.
  1. Stir remaining 3 ½ cups broth, carrots, and bay leaves into slow cooker.  Nestle browned chicken with any accumulated juice into slow cooker.  Cover and cook until chicken is tender, 4 to 6 hours on low.
  1. Transfer chicken to cutting board, let cool slightly, then shred into bite-size pieces.  Let stew settle for 5 minutes, then remove fat from surface using large spoon.  Discard bay leaves.
  1. Stir shredded chicken, peas, parsley into stew, and season with salt and pepper to taste.  (Add broth as needed) Cover and cook on high until simmering.
  1. For the dumplings: Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in large bowl.  Microwave milk and butter together until warm, about 1 minute, then whisk to melt butter.  Stir milk mixture into flour mixture until just incorporated and smooth.
  1. Drop golf ball-size dumplings on top of simmering stew, leaving about ¼ inch between each dumpling (about 18 dumplings). Cover and cook until dumplings have doubled in size, 25 to 35 minutes.  Serve.

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