Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Vegan "Chicken" Gravy with Dumplings

Day 17 of the Month of Vegan Gravy dawns nasty, cold and wet in the aftermath of a crazy windstorm. My fence is blown down in the back yard; my poor, confused dogs can't go outside; school for me and my kids is delayed (or cancelled) due to power outages and trees in the roads. DEFINITELY a day for some good, old-fashioned comfort-food.

This is my vegan version of a decades-old "Grandma-from-Iowa" recipe for Chicken-and-Dumplings; my Grandma always called it "Gravy and Dumplings" so I feel it rightly deserves a place in this month's line up. While Grandma wasn't vegan, I'm thinking she would probably approve of how closely this copies the original.
This recipe tends to get more Google hits than almost any other I've posted, so someone out there must be looking for vegan 'chicken' and dumplings fairly often.

Be patient, I've included lots of options, and notes, in this recipe - because, though everyone seems to love it, I still look at it as a work in progress; almost every time, I seem to tweak it just slightly, trying to get it "more" perfect...

Don't be put off by all the ingredients, the end result is well worth it and the ingredients are all pretty basic.

Vegan 'Chicken' Gravy and Dumplings

For the 'Chicken' and Gravy:

(**Note: We're now assuming every time I say "chicken" that you know it's mock, fake, faux, vegan and I don't need to put quotes around it or spell it like "chik'n'n" or whatever. Thanks. It saves me so much time not typing all those "quotes"!)
  • 8 oz. of your favorite vegan chicken meat substitute or chicken flavor seitan:
    (*I always use Morningstar Farms Recipe Starters Chick'n Strips here; I much prefer the taste and the way the texture holds up is perfect, though the Gardein brand works very well too, and homemade seitan is awesome if you have a "chicken" recipe you like!)
  • 6 cups vegan chicken-flavored (or vegetable) broth;
    (A really nicely-flavored broth is essential here - I use Bill's Chick'nish or Chef Bonneau's, but use whatever you prefer. The 'Wolfgang Puck' vegetarian one is really tasty too.)
  • 1/2 cup white wine - the kind you drink, not "cooking wine".
    (if you don't have it, just leave it out; I like cooking with wine - it adds a lot to the flavor, but isn't crucial to the end result)
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 or 3 twigs fresh rosemary if you can find it
  • 4 tablespoons margarine
  • 1 onion, chopped (or sometimes I use a leek)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced (of course I use more!!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon each, finely crumbled dried or fresh tarragon, sage and thyme (again, if you don't have all these, use what's available)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

  • 4 boiling potatoes (1 + pounds) cut into smallish chunks
  • 2 carrots, cut into chunks
  • 3 celery stalks, cut into pieces
  • a cup or so of frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley (optional, but tasty and pretty)
  • 1 cup + sliced mushrooms, lightly sauteed (optional but tasty, especially if your broth isn't especially thrilling)
For Dumplings:
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    (I use 1/2 whole-wheat sometimes, but that's up to you - I haven't exactly gotten proportions and cook time down for all whole-wheat - it can make the dumplings really heavy and dough-y if you use much more)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup shortening or 2 Tbsp coconut oil, soft but not melted
    (Crisco is vegan, and what I originally used to use.
    Margarine doesn't do so well here. Use what you have though, anything's better than lard like Grandma used! Ugh!)
  • 3/4 cup soymilk + 1 Tb. lemon juice or vinegar
  • 1/4 cup chopped chives or parsley (optional, but again, it's pretty)

INSTRUCTIONS (Put it all together):


Put the chicken, broth, wine, cloves and bay leaves in a 4 to 5-quart stock pot with a tight-fitting lid.
(You can tie the cloves, rosemary and bay leaf in some cheesecloth if you want, otherwise, just fish them out later, or try not to eat it when serving it.)

Simmer gently, partially covered, for 10 - 15 min. or so, while prepping veggies.
Transfer the chicken to a plate or bowl.
Let stand until cool.
Strain the cooking liquid into a bowl. Set aside.

Melt the margarine in the stockpot.
Add the onion and if you're using the optional fresh mushrooms, you can add them here too.
Stir and cook over medium-high heat for 3 - 4 minutes.
Stir in the garlic and herbs; cook for 2 - 3 more minutes but do NOT let garlic brown.
SLOWLY sprinkle in the flour, whisking carefully - add pepper and cook for 1–2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the reserved broth that you cooked the chicken in.

Bring all this to a simmer, stirring constantly, and simmer for about five minutes, it should make make a smooth, thin gravy-like-sauce.
Add the potatoes, carrots and celery to the sauce.

Simmer over low heat, partially covered, for 20–25 minutes or until the vegetables are tender but still firm.
Check frequently, and add water if needed, to make sure the sauce isn't too thick and things aren't burning!
Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces and add back to the vegetables. (If you 'tear' the chicken it looks much more authentic, which you may or may not prefer; just sayin'...)
Stir in the peas and parsley and chopped fresh greens if you're using them. Cover and bring up to a boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat to a simmer.
You now have Chicken and Gravy.


While the vegetables are simmering, mix up the dumplings.
For the dumplings, mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Using your fingers, work in the shortening/coconut oil until the mixture is crumbly.
Make a well in the center and pour in the soymilk/lemon juice mixture. Add the chives or parsley if using.
Stir quickly with a fork until the ingredients are just mixed.

When the Chicken and Gravy and Vegetables have all cooked, take a tablespoon and drop the batter on top of the gravy, to make 14 - 16 small dumplings, leaving space between them.

Sometimes when I'm feeling all Martha Stewart-ish, I shape them into balls by hand a little, so they aren't so rough.
Cover the pot and simmer, (over as low a flame as possible) without lifting lid, stirring or disturbing, for 15–20 minutes.
If you prefer the dumplings to be less moist, and more dry and biscuit-like, set pot in a 350-degree oven for about ten minutes at this point.
Spoon into bowls. Make sure every serving gets chicken, veggies, gravy and dumplings.

My Grandma's recipe says "Serve at once."
What?? Like we're going to wait around at this point??

Garnish with parsley or chives if you want.


Catherine said...

"Serve at once." Just don't burn your mouth! :)


radioactivegan said...

That is a lot of ingredients, but it looks awesome! Consider this bookmarked for future comfort :)

Tofu Mom (AKA Tofu-n-Sprouts) said...

Radioactive - it is quite a list, but none that most people won't have in their cupboard or 'fridge already.

And this way you know WHAT the ingredients are in what you're eating...
The last packaged "instant" vegan gravy mix I bought (blech) had 28 different ingredients... This entire recipe only has 24.