chicken and dumplings

chkgnocchidumplng

TGIM

Wait, that’s not how it goes, is it?

I think I just need a redo of my weekend, so thank goodness it’s Monday (and I’m one day closer to next weekend).  I learned a lot of valuable lessons this weekend…

  • I learned that my dutch oven will not retain moisture as well as my crockpot, so I should definitely use more liquid (or check the liquid) when I’m using it.
  • I learned to always check that my wallet is actually in my purse before I leave the house.
  • I learned to make sure that I turn the stovetop off before setting a tray full of treats down on top of the stove to cool and walking away.
  • I learned that not all hair places are created equal, and that there is a reason ladies spend so much to get their hair done. And that it’s not always worth it to save a few pennies by going somewhere cheaper.
  • I learned just how little sleep I can get and still be relatively functional. Or how unfunctional I am without sleep (hence #1 and 2 above)
  • I also learned that ricotta gnocchi is amazing.  Lighter, tastier, and much less fussy than its potato-y cousin.

I’d never had ricotta gnocchi, but I know how badly potato gnocchi can go horribly wrong. It can be tasteless, pasty, and heavy. Chicken and “dumplings” has a pretty big error ratio as well. Those “dumplings” can end up being dry biscuits, gooey balls of dough, or even just thick noodles, but this was different. The ricotta gnocchi came out light and fluffy – like little cloud-like pillows floating in rich, hearty chicken broth… amazing.

So if you’re looking for something warm and comforting, look no further. This new take on chicken and dumplings is just what you need. It’s like a big, warm hug … in food form.

I found the original recipe in Bon Appetit, but modified it so that I could use chicken breast instead of thigh and (more importantly) so that I didn’t have to go the store… so leeks became onions, parsnips became, well, nonexistent, and the rest is more or less the same. The recipe makes a ton of gnocchi. A ton. And trust me, you’ll want to use this stuff later on… I have a bag full in my freezer right now. Maybe I’ll cook some for dinner tonight…

Chicken and Dumplings

[ Printable Recipe ]

Gnocchi

  • 1 pound ricotta
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour plus more
  • 1 large egg, beaten to blend
  • 1 1/4 cups finely grated Parmesan
  • 3/4 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt

Chicken and Gravy

  • 10 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • Shaved Parmesan (I didn’t use it, but no biggie)

Gnocchi

  1. Gently mix ricotta, 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. flour, egg, Parmesan, nutmeg, and salt in a large bowl just to blend (do not overwork). Form dough into a ball (it will be sticky); wrap in plastic and chill for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. Place dough on a lightly floured work surface. Divide dough into 4 equal portions and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Using your hands, roll 1 portion into a 1/2″-diameter rope; cut crosswise into 1/2″-thick pieces. Lightly dust gnocchi with flour and transfer to pre-pared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining portions of dough. Cover gnocchi with a kitchen towel and chill until ready to cook. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 months ahead. Freeze on sheets, then store, frozen, in an airtight container.

Chicken and Gravy

  1. Bring broth to a boil in a large saucepan. Add chicken; reduce heat to low, cover, and gently simmer until chicken is tender and cooked through, 20–30 minutes. Remove chicken; let cool slightly and shred into bite-size pieces. Bring broth to a boil and cook until reduced to 8 cups, about 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, melt butter in a small heavy saucepan over low heat. Whisk in flour until smooth and cook, whisking constantly, until roux is pale beige in color, about 15 minutes (do not brown).
  3. Scrape roux into simmering broth; whisk until thickened and broth coats the back of a spoon. Reduce heat to low and add vegetables. Cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add shredded chicken and herbs. Season with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Chill, uncovered, until cold; cover and keep chilled. Rewarm before serving.
  4. Cook gnocchi in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until gnocchi float to the surface, about 2 minutes (slightly longer if frozen). Using a slotted spoon, transfer gnocchi to bowls, dividing equally. Ladle chicken and vegetables with gravy over. Season with pepper and top with Parmesan.

[ Adapted from Bon Appetit, February 2012 ]

stuffed pasta shells

stuffed shells

What’s more comforting than a big tray of pasta on a cool winter night? Answer: Not much. Then again, it’s been in the high 70s here so what do I know about winter? The biggest chill I get is coming out of the air conditioning vents in my car as I drive home from work…

Hey, don’t judge.

I made these stuffed shells for my momma when she came over to celebrate “Second Christmas” with us. She missed out on first Christmas due to circumstances beyond our control, so last weekend I had her come over, open presents, and enjoy a good home-cooked meal.

Half of these were left vegetarian (just for fun), but since I had some extra prosciutto lying around that I didn’t want to waste, the other half had prosciutto added to them. Both were delicious, and show just how customizable this recipe really is. :)

As an added bonus, you can make these in advance to bake the next day, or even freeze them for a future dinner! Play around with the flavors, do what you like, but definitely add these to your dinner rotation.

Stuffed Pasta Shells

[ Printable Recipe ]

  • 16 – 20 jumbo pasta shells (you’ll want extra in case when some break)
  • Shredded italian cheese
  • 1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce

For the filling:

  • 15 oz ricotta (I prefer Trader Joe’s, but do what you will)
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 large tomato, finely diced
  • ½ medium onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Fresh basil, minced
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 7 oz prosciutto, diced (optional)
  • salt & pepper

Lightly grease a 9 x 13 baking dish and pour a layer of sauce on the bottom.
If you’re baking these right away, might as well get that oven heated to 350F

1. Bring salted pasta water to a boil, and cook shells according to package directions. When done, spread out on a baking sheet to cool. Try to gently separate any that have fused together.

2. In a medium bowl, mix together the filling ingredients adding salt and pepper to taste. Realizing you probably don’t want to “taste” the filling on its own, probably about a ½ teaspoon or so of salt and a few grinds of pepper should do?

3. Once the shells have cooled, fill them with the ricotta mixture and arrange in the baking dish. Top off with more pasta sauce, shredded cheese, and grated parmesan. You can, at this time, either refrigerate the shells (covered) for tomorrow, or throw them in the oven.

4. When ready to cook, bake shells for 30 – 40 minutes, until the cheese is nice and bubbly and shells are heated through.

*If you’re going to freeze them, fill them and place them on a freezer-safe dish. Freeze about 20 minutes until firm, then place in a freezer-safe bag and store in your freezer until ready to use. When ready to bake, cover the bottom of a baking sheet with sauce, place the shells on top, cover with more sauce and cheese, then bake COVERED for 30 minutes, uncover and continue to bake for another 15 -20 minutes until hot and bubbly.