Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Vegan Chicken and Dumplings

Warm and cozy "comfort food" once again, with no apologies. I never promised a blog full of green smoothies and flax-seed pasta...

This is one of my most-requested recipes: my "veganized" version of a decades-old "Grandma" recipe. I've included lots of variations and notes because I've made this so many times and yet, almost every time I seem to tweak it just slightly.

The basic recipe remains the same however. Don't be put off by all the ingredients; Do this however it works for YOU! Change seasonings and veggies around, make the recipe "yours".
The end result is well worth it!!!

Vegan "Chik'n and Dumplings"

~~For the "Chicken and Broth"~~
  • 8 oz. your favorite vegan "chicken" meat substitute or chicken flavor seitan: (*I used Morningstar Farms Recipe Starters Chick'n Strips here and they are good, but now I much prefer Gardein Chick'n Strips (the refrigerated, un-breaded ones), I much prefer the taste and the texture is perfect!
  • 6 cups vegan chicken-flavored (or vegetable) broth;
    (I use McKays or Chef Bonneau's but use whatever you can find. 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, it adds a lot to the flavor but isn't crucial)
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 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 dried or fresh tarragon, sage and thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 6 boiling potatoes (1 1/2 pounds) cut into chunks
  • 4 carrots (1/2 pound) 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)
  • **sometimes I add a cup or two of chopped fresh kale
  • **also optional but tasty, sliced mushrooms that have been lightly sauteed.
~~For Dumplings~~
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    (I use 1/2 whole-wheat sometimes, 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: Chicken and Broth~~
(Note: We're now assuming every time I say "chicken" that you know it's mock, fake, faux and I don't need to put quotes around it or spell it like "chik'nn" or whatever.)

Put the chicken, broth, wine, cloves and bay leaves in a 4 to 5-quart stock pot with a tight-fitting lid.
Simmer gently, partially covered, for 10 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.
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 high heat for 3 - 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic, pepper and herbs; cook for 1 more minute. Add the reserved broth that you cooked the chicken in.

Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, to make a smooth, thin 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 to make sure the sauce isn't too thick and things aren't burning. Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces and add to the vegetables. (If you 'tear' the chicken it looks much more authentic, just sayin'...)
Stir in the peas and parsley and chopped fresh greens if you're using them. Cover and bring to a boil over medium heat then reduce the heat to a simmer.

~~INSTRUCTIONS: 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.
Stir quickly with a fork until the ingredients are just mixed. The dough should be pretty sticky and hold together well.
Using a tablespoon, drop the batter/dough into the broth to make 16 small dumplings, leaving space between them.
Sometimes when I'm feeling all Martha Stewart-ish, I shape them 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.
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.


Matt said...

This looks great. One of the best comfort foods, and I love how it's baked right in on the top, and picks up some of the flavours of the soup. Yum!

Karyn said...

I love this recipe! I make it with extra veggies and without the "chicken" and it is scrumptious. Perfect for the cold winter we are having, but I love it in the summer, too, with my garden veggies.
Thank you for another great recipe.

JoKnows said...

This looks so yummy. I love dumplings but don't often have them. I will have to give this a try!

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to try this tonight! It's been raining for days where I am, so the boyf requested chicken and dumplings and this sounds perfect. White wine is my favorite secret ingredient for soups. Thank you for sharing!

Unknown said...

The first time I made this recipe everything was perfect, the second time i could have sworn a section was missing, about adding flour to he broth to make the gravy, so I added some in myself. Again, it came out perfect. Just now, the third time I went by the recipe exactly and never added flour to the broth, and it was watery and never turned into gravy. I had to scoop out the finished dumplings and then add flour to the broth to thicken it. Honestly at this point I am very confused. Otherwise, the recipe is perfect.

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

Oh, I totally get it!
There are a number of factors that will affect the end result. It can depend on what type potatoes you add - more starchy varieties will make your broth thicker and more gravy-like, less starchy varieties will not affect it's thickness.
Also, depending on how "loose" or firm your dumpling dough is, some flour will seep into the broth, making it thicken... or not...
And finally, simmering it longer will reduce the broth to more of a gravy like consistency, while cooking it quickly may result in a thinner broth.

Some recipes out there DO have the added step of thickening the gravy, however I find I end up with a recipe just right for my family's tastes, with the instructions as written. Everyone will have slightly different preferences.

I may amend the recipe to add a step in there saying "if you prefer to thicken broth etc..." though, thanks for the observation!!