For the 20 years Charlie & I have been married, Krista’s birthday has always taken center stage on Valentine’s Day. We spent many years putting on birthday parties with heart-shaped cakes. Now we baby-sit so she and her sweetie can go out and celebrate. This year I decided to make a special meal just for the two of us the night before Valentine’s Day. I thought I remembered Charlie remarking on how good this recipe sounded. In my rush to multi-task — use up what we had in the fridge, create a blog entry, try a recipe from Chefs on the Farm, have it all made and photographed before he walked in the door, I don’t think I thought this one through. Our Valentine’s Eve meal, though completely satisfying, was quite the opposite of oysters and champagne. Sitting by the fire all toasty warm, eating a bowl of this delicious stew, I felt a little too much like the dumplings I had just consumed and a little less romantic with every bite.
For another more appropriate occasion, I can highly recommend this dish. My recipe is a variation of an adaptation written by Greg Atkinson, a longtime advocate of local foods. Not only has he written four regional cookbooks, you’ve probably heard him on NPR or seen his writing in the Pacific Northwest Magazine. He is also a chief instructor at the Seattle Culinary Academy . The original recipe, Chicken Stew with Ricotta Chive Dumplings, was created by Karen Jurgensen from the cookbook, Chefs on the Farm, inspired by the Quillisascut Farm School.
The dumplings (even though I now look at them with mixed feelings caused by identifying too closely with their shape) were very simple to make. I didn’t have a full 1/2 cup of fresh chopped chives in my garden so I substituted other herbs, probably a bad idea. Charlie felt one of the herbs was too overpowering — maybe the rosemary or the sage, but probably the thyme since I also used quite a lot in the stew itself. Then there was the issue of too much salt, this time not my fault. The recipe calls for 1T kosher salt. You would think that was a reasonable amount but they were overly salty. Maybe my view is tainted because I keep thinking, if only they had been a little bit smaller…. or more accurately, if only I hadn’t eaten so many.
It doesn’t help that Charlie just came up behind me, seeing the photo but not knowing what I was writing, affectionately kissed me on the head and said something like, ” you’re a dumpling.” See, I told you so ……. case closed.
Turkey n Dumplings
For the Dumplings
2 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 cup fresh chives (or sage leaves), chopped
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 T kosher salt
Combine all these ingredients and keep the mixture in a bowl in the fridge until you’re ready to use.
For the Stew
2 T chicken fat or olive oil
2 spring onions or 1/2 regular onion, chopped
1 bunch baby carrots, cleaned and sliced on the diagonal
1 bunch turnips, cleaned and quartered ( I used 3 turnips and 3 parsnips instead)
1 stalk green garlic or 4 cloves regular garlic, thinly sliced
4 to 6 cups homemade chicken or turkey broth
4 cups cooked chicken or turkey shredded
2T chopped fresh thyme leaves
Salt & pepper to taste
Melt the oil or fat in a large pot over medium heat . Cook the vegetables in the oil until the onions are soft & translucent. Pour in the chicken broth. When the liquid comes to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the vegetables are soft, about 15 minutes. Stir in the shredded turkey and thyme. Season to taste.
Using a rounded tablespoon, drop the dumpling mixture into the hot stew. Cook for 7 minutes, then turn the dumplings over and cook 5 minutes more. Ladle out some stew and then a couple of dumplings into every bowl.
Cook only when serious comfort food is needed ………….