Sunday, November 25, 2012

Notes from the Groaning Board


We're still recovering from another Thanksgiving dinner. You know the symptoms: glassy eyes, lethargy, the feeling that you'll never want another bite of food for the rest of your life. But it doesn't last as long as we think it lasts, and before you know it, we're sniffing around the kitchen again to appease the hunger gods.

Here's a recipe for that mother-of-all-leftovers, turkey (or in some cases, chicken). It's homey, good, and very satisfying on a cold late autumn day. The leftovers of this are wonderful rewarmed with a little additional sauce added to compensate for the sauce the dumplings soak up.

Turkey (or Chicken) and Dumplings
A good recipe for using up odds and ends of vegetables, if you have any: peas, carrots, mushrooms, leeks, summer squash, what-have-you. Saute them until soft before adding to the recipe.

A 4 or 5 qt. dutch oven with tight fitting lid
Oven 350 degrees

1/3 cup (2/3 stick) butter
1 small onion, roughly chopped

Saute the onion (and if you plan on using some oddball veggies, those, too) in the dutch oven in the butter.
Remove when soft, draining excess butter back into the pot.

1/2 cup flour
4 cups turkey or chicken stock, or a combination of stock and leftover gravy
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Add the flour to the remaining butter in the dutch oven; cook to make a roux over low heat for about 10 minutes, or until the roux is pale golden. Add the stock 1/2 cup at  a time, whisking into the roux to prevent lumps. When all the stock/gravy is added, add seasonings. Simmer the sauce for 10 minutes, then add meat and vegetables.

Add:
4 cups diced cooked turkey or chicken
2 1/2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
the sauted onion, and whatever other veggies you are adding

Bring the filling to a simmer, stirring gently, then add the dumplings to the top, and pop into a 350 degree oven for 1 1/4 hours.

Dumplings
1 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
a tablespoon of chopped chives (fresh or dried)
a tablespoon of chopped parsley (fresh or dried)
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 large egg

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the herbs, if using. Cover and refrigerate at this point if you are not baking the dish immediately. Otherwise, soldier on.
Whisk the egg into the buttermilk, then add to the flour mixture until just blended together, no more. Don't overmix! It looks kind of wet and shaggy. Scoop large spoonfuls of the dumpling mixture over the hot filling to cover the top. Bake immediately as directed above.
NOTE: The steam from the sauce helps to keep the dumplings tender, so don't peek at them while they're baking.  Your patience will be rewarded with lighter, fluffier dumplings.

Makes 6 generous servings.

If you have leftovers, cover tightly and refrigerate up to three days. Add a bit more stock to the pot before reheating in the oven for 30 - 45 mins. at 350. Or you could do what we do in a pinch: Place serving size portions in soup plates and microwave them, covered, for 3 to 4 minutes each.