Autumn Warmers: Chicken Casserole & Dumplings
So last time I sat down and wrote my blog I was in the process of sorting out the freezer in order to get my new one properly organised. Well today I was cruising the web and found out that September is amongst other things British Food Fortnight so I set myself a challenge to see how we can embrace both the freezer sort out and the celebration of Great British Food.
Having a new kitchen and all the latest technology is a bit daunting but it’s also really exciting and after the freezer sort out I decided that I would make a point of trying something new with the kitchen appliances this month.
First job is to plan the menus and then the second job is to learn the gadgets and what I can do with them. So, I started for week one, looking at the new freezer list to see what I am going to do and which gadget I was going to get to know better. I have filed all the instruction manuals in one place so I can find them easily when I need them. First on the list is the wonderful Chicken Breasts from Love What You Eat, their lovely rolled Sirloin Beef Joint, Country Style Pork Sausages ,
Halibut and Exotic Fish Steak selection.
Having worked that out for the first week I sat down with my box of manuals and a glass of wine and I started to go through the manuals and see what I can create that uses these gadgets.
First manual out of the file was the warming drawer manual and I nearly passed it over as I thought a warming drawer is just a warming drawer – lesson number one learnt! It’s so much more than a warming drawer it’s a slow cooker too who knew. Well that deserves to be tested out I thought so I would use the chicken breasts and make a chicken casserole with dumplings as its an easy one and a favourite and I know it freezes well so the bonus would be some portions to freeze for when I am too busy.
Chicken Casserole with Dumplings
6 Love What You Eat Chicken Breasts defrosted – this will be enough for 8 portions as we all know they are huge
6 garlic cloves squashed and diced
3 large onions cut into about 8 wedges each
Smoked Bacon – I have some frozen ones – I always keep two or three packs in the freezer as they liven up lots of dishes
3 large carrots, chopped
1 small punnet of chestnut mushrooms quartered
Zest from 2 large oranges
3 tablespoons of marmalade
3 bay leaves
Chicken Stock and some red wine .approx 1/2 pint of each
2-3 tablespoons of plain flour
First halve the chicken breasts and toss in seasoned flour.
Heat some oil in your casserole dish and seal the chicken on all sides then set aside.
Add the onions, garlic, carrots and bacon pieces to the pan and fry over a medium heat for about 5/6 minutes until lightly brown and the onions softened, stir in the rest of the seasoned flour and cook for a couple of minutes stirring all the time to prevent sticking.
Add in the marmalade, the zest of the oranges stirring well so you do not get any lumps.
Add in the mushrooms, the bay leaves and then slowly stir in the stock keep it moving and when this is thoroughly mixed in and hot do the same with the red wine. When up to the boil add in the chicken.
Put the lid on and put it straight into the slow cooker or in my case warming drawer at high heat for 4 hours or at low heat for 8 hours.
About 40 minutes before serving make the dumplings. I always have vegetarian suet in the cupboard, and I use about half suet to flour, so it depends how many you want. I only make enough for that day’s dinner as they are so easy to make. I don’t freeze them.
Dumplings are so simple and can be very varied depending on your mood. My basic recipe is half suet to flour a pinch of salt and pepper and then enough water to make a good dough. To that I add what ever takes my fancy in the cupboard. It could be orange or lemon zest, horseradish, mustard, mint sauces, any type of herb with coriander, thyme, sage and mixed herbs being my starting point. They are delicious with finely chopped and cooked onions, peppers, apple or fennel all go in.
Having decided what we are having I then add this to the dough and then divide it up into small balls (remembers they double in size roughly) and then drop them into the top of the dish about 30 minutes before I serve.