Friday, February 1, 2008


Today's post is going to be, of necessity, short. My computer (don't get me wrong, I do love my little machine) is on its last circuits. I'm not sure how much longer it will continue to labor on under my senseless and cruel computing demands. I'm waiting for my tax refund in order to get a new machine for the webs. Then I shall unburden this wee babby and use it for a travelling model. Which would work--it runs the newest version of Office, if only just barely.

Anyway, I made chicken and dumplings for dinner tonight, hence the title of the post. It's not done yet, and I'm pretty sure it will be heinous. But, like a particularly messy automobile accident, I cannot look away and am actually looking forward to trying it out. Sick? Why yes, yes I am.

I made up a recipe last weekend that did NOT fail, and in fact helped my mom when she was so ill she didn't want to eat. She encouraged me to write it down, so I'll share it with you. I tend to do things by nose and taste, so I'm sorry for the half-assed instructions:

1 tube polenta (I used the kind with basil and garlic flavor, but you can choose your own favorite flavor/plain incarnation)
2 10oz cans of chicken, white and dark meat mix
most of a jar of spaghetti sauce (I use Meijer organics; they have good flavors)
half a large white onion, chopped
5-7 cloves of garlic, sliced
parmesan cheese
half of a smaller bag of mozzarella cheese shreds (to taste, really.)
olive oil
small baking dish, about 9x9 or so

In a large, high-sided skillet (I used a teflon wok, actually, which I can't use as a wok as teflon off-gasses at wok-like temperatures, but it's perfect as a high-sided saute pan), drizzle enough olive oil to cover the bottom. Over medium high heat, cook the onions and garlic until soft (about 7-10 minutes). Drain chicken and add, heat through (another 5-10 minutes), pour half the jar of sauce into the pan, warm through.

Slice the polenta thinly enough to make two layers in the dish. Put one layer on the bottom of the dish, pour the chicken mix over it. Sprinkle it with the cheeses (I used a very light sprinkling, I think the next time I do it I'll make it thicker.) Add the second layer of polenta, drizzle some of the cold sauce on top (it's just the way I did it; I didn't want to dirty two pans. You do need to put sauce on top to keep the polenta from drying out and turning into very thick, very nasty tortilla chips. I'm just saying I didn't heat it through first.) Top with a thick layer of cheese.

Heat the oven to 350, pop the dish in for 35 minutes--just until the cheese melts. You can hit it with the broiler to make it all nice and toasty, if you like. Enjoy with a sweet red wine (ok, ok, that's just me. But it would be fabulous with a nice, crispy salad on the side.)

It's quick, it's dirty, it's tasty. I like using the mixed white and dark meat from the can, it seems to give more flavor. You could also probably use a nice mild Italian chicken sausage in there with the canned meat--that may be the next incarnation.

Total pans dirtied: two
Utensils used: two (spoon for the sauce, knife to chop/slice all ingredients)
Flavor for the effort: pretty damn good.

My chicken and dumplings are done. Pray for me. *runs off for a bowl*

Actually, not bad. The dumplings are a little sweeter than I think they're intended to be(I ran out of whole milk, had to use evaporated mixed with skim),'s actually quite good. I guess I didn't do too badly after all!*

*Later note: Way better second day.

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