Sunday, November 4, 2012

Bacon Chicken & Dumplings

Things have been a little hectic since I started classes again, and I haven't really been experimenting the way I was able to over the summer.  I do plan on trying some new things for Thanksgiving, and last night I tried a variation on an old favorite.

I get daily recipe emails from  Sometimes I look at the title of the email and delete it without even reading it, and sometimes I actually save it to read later, or open it right then.  I received an email about a week ago titled "Bacon Chicken and Dumplings," and got around to reading it yesterday.  The approach they took to the recipe was very different from the way I make mine, and I thought it might be possible to incorporate some of the ideas into my recipe, but still do it my way.  The empty pot that almost got licked clean by my kids (and my husband) confirmed my suspicions, but I do have to give credit where credit is due, and the inspiration was the email I received from that website.  If you want to check out their recipe, you might enjoy it, but here is what I did:

Bacon Chicken & Dumplings
1.5 pounds bacon (I used hickory smoked)
2.5 pounds chicken, cubed
1 bag frozen southern hash brown potatoes
1 tsp onion powder (the recipe on the other website used actual onion)
12 cups chicken broth (water + bouillon cubes)
3 tsp poultry seasoning
Salt & pepper to taste
Spicy garlic seasoning to taste (I have a grinder, but you can use garlic powder instead)
2 splashes of lemon juice
1 1/2 cups half and half


4 cups flour
1  tsp baking soda
1  tsp salt
6 tbsp shortening
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tsp pepper

I normally boil my chicken for chicken and dumplings, so this was the first departure. 

Start with the bacon, and fry it up  to a nice brown color.  Set it to the side as it finishes (leave it for now), and drain almost all of the grease afterwards.  Make sure to keep the drippings!

While cooking the bacon, put the water, bouillon cubes, and the rest of the poultry seasoning into your big silver stock pot and start heating it up (once it boils, turn it down to a simmer).  If you have additional down time in between adding uncooked bacon to the pan and turning the bacon over, prepare your dumpling mixture. 

Dumplings: Mix your flour, soda, and salt and pepper together.  Once the dry ingredients are mixed, cut the shortening in (I use a fork and just make it crumble nicely).  Add your milk and mix.  If you have time before you start your chicken, potatoes and such, go ahead and roll out your dough and slice it into dumpling strips. If you don't have time, you can do it after you add the bacon and cream while your dinner simmers.

Note on the dumplings:  I had to use my hands to finish mixing the dough, and it was a little stickier than my other dumplings, mostly because for my other kind of chicken and dumplings I use a triple batch of dough, and I had to change the mixture since the additional bacon changed how it all went together.  It still worked just fine, and was plenty tasty enough. 

Cook the diced chicken in the bacon drippings and the teensy bit of grease that was left in the pan (hopefully less than a tsp worth of the grease after you drain).  Add the onion powder and about 1 1/2 tsp of the poultry seasoning to the chicken as it cooks.  Once the chicken is mostly cooked through, dump everything from the pan into your large silver stock pot.  Immediately put the potatoes in the already hot frying pan.  When they are lightly browned, added them to the stock pot as well.

Crumbled the bacon and add it to the pot.  Add the half and half.  Bring it back up to boil if the half and half cools the contents too much, then turn it back down, since it should be simmering at about medium low for as much of the process as possible (everything except your initial boil if you can manage it).  Make sure you are happy with the seasoning, and add whatever salt, pepper, garlic, etc. that you need if you aren't.  I used a couple of splashes of lemon juice after I tasted mine at this point in the cooking, just to take a little of the edge off.  I usually use more with my other recipe, but the bacon adds so much to the flavor of this, I didn't want to use too much.  You can even do without if you prefer.  Once you have your seasonings just right, start adding your dumplings. 

If you need to roll out your dumplings and slice them into strips, now is the time.  Once they are ready, feed them into the simmering pot, stirring occasionally so they don't stick together. 

Simmer for 10 minutes, uncovered, and make sure to stir frequently so it does not burn to the bottom of your pot.  Serve a yummy dinner!  If you have any questions, let me know. I'll be happy to answer any that you have.

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