But first, an object lesson. I made cupcakes for Sylvie’s birthday. To be precise, I made matcha coconut (with a bit of jasmine) cupcakes with coconut matcha buttercream frosting. I started with the Joy of Cooking yellow cake recipe and tinkered from there. That recipe claimed that you don’t actually need to use cupcake wrappers in the cupcake pan so long as you grease and flour thoroughly. The wrappers we had on hand didn’t fit very well into the pan, so I figured that might be easier. Here’s how that first batch turned out.
Same amount of batter per cupcake in each batch, but these turned out taller and, dare I say it, prettier. Use your wrappers, people.
Now, on to the main event. I’ve been making chicken and dumplings for years. It started at this recipe, but I’ve mixed up how I do it pretty thoroughly at this point. The recipe for the dumplings themselves is unaltered in my typical use, but I shamelessly change everything else. This time, went so far as to leave out the chicken and do sausage instead. (Grilling season ended while we still had a ton of brats on hand.)
That’s a bag of chopped kale. There was a squash thing that called for one bunch of kale but which I decided meant 2/3 of a bunch of kale. And celery root instead of celery. But that’s a regular carrot, and I also chopped an onion to throw in.
The recipe calls for making a broth by boiling the veggies with the chicken. Boiling brats struck me as…unappetizing. So I decided to caramelize things before throwing them into the broth to cook down and get tasty.
And that’s a plate full of chopped up sausage that’s been skillet fried. The fact that the sausage started life as a brat is very Wisconsin, but other than that, sausage is legitimately Southern when thrown in with gravy and biscuit-like objects, so my sacrilege score on this particular meal is quite a lot lower than has been usual.
And that’s the final stage of the dough. The recipe calls for rolling it out and then being orderly about cutting out dumplings or pinching off chunks. I’ve never had the patience for that – rolling out biscuit dough makes a mess because it’s sticky. I pinch the dough right out of the bowl, roll it in my hands a bit, then toss it into the boiling, milky broth.
Speaking of the broth, I should mention the other thing I ignore the recipe on. It calls for removing the carrot, onion etc., from the broth and discarding them. I started making this recipe in college when grocery money was a seriously challenging budgetary item. I was not throwing away vegetables. And I like my broth more gravy-like in consistency than this recipe will give you if you follow it strictly. So instead I take the immersion blender and puree the vegetables. Before I encountered the supreme joys of the immersion blender, I’d scoop them out, regular blend them, then throw them back in. I’ve also used cream instead of milk, cream of mushroom soup instead of milk, sour cream, and several other things. Someday I might do a cup of cheese soup, just to see what happens.
Speaking of liking the texture to be gravy-like, are you aware of this product? It’s like corn starch, except easy. It flour. But magic flour. Magic, makes everything thick super-fast and without lumps flour. The name would be unforgivable if it weren’t so darn accurate.
Here’s where I made my major departure from status quo. You don’t want to eat kale raw; it’s too tough. But that toughness means it stays green and sassy when you do something like toss it into a pot full of sausage, boiled dumplings, and gravy. It’s like a pop of lovely nature in your bowl of delightful cardiac arrest.
Mmmm, bowl of cardiac arrest. This was good. And a nice switch up for a recipe I’ve been making nigh unto a decade now. Adding the kale here was brilliant, and the sausage substitution did not detract. Would do again.