One of the biggest road blocks to a quick and easy meal in Togo is the lack of boneless chicken breasts or any sort of boneless, semi-prepared meat. In America, if I wanted to make a fairly quick batch of chicken and dumplings, I had the option to grab a rotisserie chicken from the local Safeway. That isn’t really an option here, sadly. However, it has forced me to make more foods from scratch, become more creative etc. This is one of those instances.
In America, I typically would not make my own cream of chicken soup. Opening a can is just so quick and easy! But now that I have gone the way of homemade, I don’t think I can go back. It is so easy and vastly more delicious!
Step one: Oven roast or pouch bake a whole fryer chicken. I’ve chosen pouch baking for today’s fryer bird. I detest having bones or gristle in my finished dish; when I want meat in a dish I find it much easier to just pouch cook the meat until it is falling off the bone but still retains great flavor.
Take one small fryer chicken (thawed)
Sprinkle of salt
1/4 cup of water or white wine might be nice
Create a sturdy boat out of aluminum foil in your roasting pan and place chicken inside, sprinkle generously with salt and add water. You can add other herbs and flavors at this point but I went super simple.
Seal up the aluminum foil boat with another sheet of foil and bake in oven for 1 hour at 450 degrees F.
When the chicken is done, open pouch and allow to cool throughly. Once cool, shred chicken from the bone. You can save the bones, skin and fat for the makings of a nice chicken stock. Just put it in a ziplock bag and put it in your freezer for later.
For the Cream of chicken soup:
2 Carrots, Diced
1 medium onion, Diced
2 tbsp Olive Oil
4 tbsp butter
1/2 c. or less AP Flour
salt/pepper to taste
6 cups Chicken stock (divided into 4 cups and 2 cups)
2 cups whole milk (I used UHT)
1 tsp Garlic powder (to taste)
1 tsp Onion powder (to taste)
1/2 tsp dried thyme
Dice carrots and onions, sauté in olive oil. Once onions soften, add the butter. Once the butter is melted, begin making the roux. Add the flour a little at a time, I found I didn’t need to use the entire 1/2 cup of flour. You don’t want the roux to be dry, it should still be creamy and whisk-able. Once the roux is cooked (don’t let it brown, just cook it until the flour will no longer have a raw/cereal taste), slowly add the chicken stock (about 4 cups). Whisk throughly after each small addition of stock to avoid lumps. Once you have worked in all of the chicken stock, add the milk, spices and herbs. Stir the soup constantly until it thickens. Turn off burner to stop cooking. Keep aside the remaining 2 cups of stock to thin out the soup as you cook the dumplings in it. Now we make the dumplings.
The biscuit dumplings:
My dumpling recipe is from the wonderful blog: Baking Bites. The measurements and techniques are from this particular blog post on chicken and dumplings: http://bakingbites.com/2010/01/chicken-and-dumplings/
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter, cold
1 cup buttermilk*
*I do not have access to buttermilk here, so I added buttermilk powder to my dry ingredients. I followed the instructions on the buttermilk powder canister for making 1 cup of buttermilk. You could also just add a little vinegar or lemon juice to milk. I really enjoy the flavor the buttermilk powder brings to the biscuits, however.
Mix together dry ingredients (plus the buttermilk powder!) and then use a dough cutter to cut the cold butter into the flour mix. You can also use a fork. Make sure the butter is super cold and cut it into the flour until it has a sandy consistency with pea sized pieces of butter or smaller. Add the milk and mix the dough. The dough will be a bit wet and sticky. I chose to not knead the dough as stated on the Baking Bites recipe. Instead I used an ice cream disher to scoop out the sticky dough into the cream of chicken soup. Before doing this, you will want to bring the soup back up to a boil, thinning it out with the reserved chicken stock as necessary. Dish the biscuit dough into the soup. Make sure not to put too many dumplings in at once or they will stick together. You know they are almost done when they begin to float. You will probably have to cut one open to check for doneness. Add the pulled chicken and allow to cook until warmed through.
Once all the dumplings are throughly cooked, the chicken and dumplings are done! Serve and enjoy!
Before making the cream of chicken soup, I looked at many recipes to get inspiration. These are a few blog recipes that I felt heavily influenced the creation of my own recipe:
I hope you enjoy the recipe and have a wonderful, comfort food filled week! Thanks for reading!