Sunday, February 15, 2009

Chicken and gravy with steamed dumplings

Chicken and dumplings is the quintessential comfort food dish. Although I didn't grow up on the dish, I now enjoy it. I've prepared the dish twice this month by stewing a chicken fryer.

Moist dumplings, stewed in a rich gravy go with chunks of freshly stewed chicken. It's a favorite that can be a hit among campers.

The only problem with dropping dumplings into a large pot of stew at camp is that the process is cumbersome. You have to drop dumplings into the stew one at a time. After they're cooked to perfection, you must fish them out while avoiding pieces of chicken and vegetables.

This process works for a family or in a small restaurant where it can be accomplished with little trouble. Once you add 50 or 100 campers that must eat at the same time, you need a better plan.

To resolve the need to cook a large quantity of dumplings, I like to set up one or more steamer rigs with standard 12- by 20-inch hotel pans. First pour about two inches water into a 4-inch hotel pan. Place the pan on the range top and bring the water to a boil.

Meanwhile, scoop dumplings into a lightly oiled 2-inch perforated hotel pan. About 28 dumplings fit inside each perforated pan. Scoop them into four rows of seven each with a No. 24 disher.

Set the perforated pan inside the pan with the boiling water. Cover and steam for 10 to 15 minutes. Watch the dumplings closely. Over steaming produces them rubbery, dried out dumplings.


If desired, prepare a chicken stew with carrots, celery, potatoes and peas. Ladle stew over the dumplings.

8 ounces butter, melted
8 ounces all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 gallon hot chicken stock

2-1/2 pounds all-purpose flour
3 ounces baking powder
2 tablespoons salt
10 ounces eggs, beaten
5-1/2 cups milk

12-1/2 pounds hot cooked chicken

To make the gravy: Add flour to fat and blend in medium saucepan. Stir in salt and pepper. Cook 5 minutes. Add stock gradually. Cook, stirring constantly, with wire whisk. Cook until smooth and thickened.

To form dumplings: Combine dry ingredients in mixer bowl. Using flat beater, mix on low speed until blended,. Combine eggs and milk. Add to dry ingredients. Mix on low speed only until blended.

Pour 2 inches water into a 2 (2-inch) hotel pans. Boil water in each pan over 1 or 2 burners on the range top.

Portion batter with No. 24 dipper onto lightly oiled 2-inch perforated hotel pans. Place perforated pan over 4-inch hotel pan with boiling water. Steam covered 12 to 15 minutes.

For each serving: Arrange 2 dumplings, 3-1/2 to 4 ounces meat and 1/3-cup gravy on each plate. Garnish with parsley. Makes 50 servings.

  1. If chicken base is used for stock, delete or reduce salt. Use chicken drippings for fat if desired. Makes about 1-gallon gravy.
  2. Dumplings may be dropped onto hot meat or stew mixture in counter pans and steamed. Makes 100 dumplings.
  3. Approximately 33-37 lb chicken (AP) (about 8 fryers) will yield approximately 12-1/2 pounds cooked meat. In a large stockpot, cover chicken with cold water and add 2-pound mire poix (rough chopped onion, celery and carrot at a 2:1:1 ration). Bring to a boil and let simmer for about 40 to 60 minutes until cooked through. Let cool and remove chicken from bones.

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