Here I go again, being a Feast Day Recipe Hack.
St. Teresa of Avila's Feast Day was on October 15th
I know she was brilliant, a Doctor of the Church, but I strongly suspect she had as sense of humor. When I read some of her quotes and stories I am inspired, and usually a few of them spark some imaginative ideas among our children about her humility allowing her to laugh at herself (sometimes, I know she also begged for no more public favors). I might be wrong, but I love the thought that she did have a sense of humor so and with that in mind I decided to hack my Chicken Stew with Dumplings into a recipe just for her. The dumplings are very light and the stew is hearty, so why not - think about it.
I begin by making stock. Take a whole chicken, add chopped up veggies (celery, onions, carrots, garlic etc..) and boil on the stove with herbs (parsley, kosher salt, pepper, sage, bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, celery salt) I usually simmer this for several hours, then I place a colander on top of another pot and pour the stock through to catch all the veggies, the chicken and allowing the broth to be caught in the pan I intend to make the stew in. I take out 2 cups of broth and set that aside. I allow 1 cup to cool to add to the dumplings and I mix about 1/2 cup corn starch into the other cooled broth and mix until corn starch is completely dissolved and set aside to add a bit later.
Dumplings are pretty much biscuits with a few tweaks. I take 2 cups flour, 4 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp kosher salt and 1/2 cup shortening. Mix dry ingredients first then cut in the shortening. Once shortening is blended well make a well in the center and add 1 cup broth. If you need more liquid, add milk but you don't want to dumplings too wet so mix well before adding anything. Roll out dough and then take a pizza cutter and cut into squares.
Now go back to the broth, turn the heat up to high medium and add chopped up carrots and frozen peas (sometimes I add corn too) I always discard the veggies from stock and add fresh at this stage. I also season the broth if it needs more. This can be by your preference, but I generally add more salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning. Add the corn starch blend you mixed up and stir it in good.
Once the broth is at a good rolling boil start dropping in the dumplings - DO NOT STIR! I'm serious, don't stir it because it will break down your dumplings. I use a wooden spoon to push them aside a bit to allow more to be added, but I never stir until the dumplings start to look like they are done. They will first puff up and then start settling down. I keep the lid on the pot at this stage and cook about 20 more minutes to allow the stew to thicken up. When you do begin stirring, do so very gently.
Voila and yum! This is my husbands most favorite meal! It may be a lot of steps, but it is actually easy to make and all those steps are worth it because you end up with a very hearty stew full of flavor.
While we ate the meal we passed around text with St. Teresa of Avila quotes in it. It is such a wonderful change to go from always instructing and teaching while your children are young to see those minds formed and adding to the discussion about a Saint. Hearing how they understand a quote and what it means to them is a lesson for the parents as well.