October 4, 2008


It's raining sideways here and I expect one or two of my chickens to blow by the window at eye level any minute. In thinking that, it got me thinking of ... food. On a blustery day like this, what with the odd chicken possibly being knocked unconscious, a nice pot of mean rooster stew with dumplings seemed just the thing. Heh heh!

I've had a rooster or five over the years that ended up in a pot somehow. After about the 20th time one of them ambushes you from behind a shrub, spurs flying, it tends to make you less enamored of the gorgeous buggers. But WAIT! Lest you think this animal-loving woman has a dark side, (well, I do, but let's not visit it, shall we?) I hasten to say that any rooster I've "dispatched" has been anesthetized first. Yes, anesthetized. See, once they're dead, I have no problem bleeding, plucking, singeing, gutting and cooking them. It's that killing part I can't do. So, I have my unorthodox way. (No, the anesthetic doesn't stay in the meat) Any self-respecting true farmer is laughing his or her butt off right about now, and I'm not advocating this, it's just what I do.

And oh, the TASTE of a chicken that's been truly free range, eating bugs, berries and grass, zipping around racing the other chickens...it's nothing like the flaccid, white, bland chicken of the supermarket - poor things. So, here is my recipe. And, if you don't have a convenient rooster you're ticked off at for raping your hens and attacking you, you certainly can use store-bought chicken or turkey and have excellent results, too!


a 4-5 lb. chicken, cut up

5 T. olive oil

12 pearl onions, peeled OR

1 lg. onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 carrots, cut into chunks

3 ribs celery with leaves, sliced

6-inch sprig fresh rosemary, leaves minced

3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves stripped

2 tsp. salt

1/2 t. freshly ground pepper


2 c. flour

3 t. baking powder

1 t. salt

2 T. minced Italian parsley

1/8 t. ground nutmeg

4 T. shortening

3/4 - 1 c. very cold milk

In a large, wide stock pot, heat 3 T. olive oil. Braise chicken pieces until golden brown on all sides. Transfer chicken to a plate, discard oil but save all browned bits in bottom of pot. Add remaining 2 T. olive oil and return pan to medium heat. Add onions, garlic, carrots and celery and saute 3-5 minutes until vegetables are softening, but not browning. Stir in herbs, salt and pepper and saute briefly. Add chicken pieces back to pot and add cold water just to cover chicken. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer. Then make dumplings: Combine the dry ingredients and the parsley in a large bowl. Cut in the shortening until the mixture looks like coarse meal. Add 3/4 c. of the milk and stir briefly with a fork. Don't over mix! Add only enough of the remaining milk to make dough hold together. Once the chicken has simmered for 25 minutes, drop egg-sized spoonfuls of dough on top of the bubbling broth. Cover and steam for 20 minutes, without peeking! The cover must stay on to make the dumplings fluffy. Turn off heat, let stand a few minutes and serve in deep bowls.

Serves 6

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