Monday, November 10, 2008

When the lights go out...

A few weeks ago here in New York we had a Saturday full of miserable weather, it didn't start out so bad, in fact it started out as a relatively normal northeast autumn day. The sky was blue, with a brisk breeze blowing colorful leaves around. Unfortunately that brisk breeze was bringing in a storm that would eventually leave us without power for more than six hours.... While the rain wasn't a huge surprise to us, as the weathermen had predicted it quite explicitly, the wind was quite unexpected.
Based on the predictions of the weathermen, Precious and I had decided to make chicken and dumplings for dinner. A delicious, warm and cozy food. Growing up with a very picky eater for a father, I had never before tried to cook or eat it. Presh says that the only recipe that she likes for chicken and dumplings is the Cooks Illustrated version. She saved it to her computer a few years ago when she discovered it, and I have been unable to relocate it on their website, but we used the version that she had saved.
Everything started out fine, we started cooking sometime around 4 pm while her 5 year old was contently playing his Nintendo DS and her 4 month old was snoozing soundly in his Stokke. (I'll post more on that later - as I think it is by far the best baby "supply" she has!) We teamed up and chopped and chopped all of the vegetables. The recipe makes a ton of food, we had enough for 3 adults for dinner the first night, then 4 adults the next night. So we finely chopped carrots, celery and onion, a mirepoix if I may. While she cleaned up after our chopping extravaganza, I went ahead and started browning our chicken thighs. We bought half with bones and skin and half without, in a futile effort to make this meal slightly better for you, and by that I mean that is what the grocery store had available.

Once all the chicken was browned and removed from the pot, we drained off all of the excess chicken fat and tossed in all of the nicely chopped vegetables and sauteed until tender. This may not seem like a difficult process, but if you have ever tried to lift a LeCreuset pot, you'd understand that a 13 qt french oven pot is nearly impossible to lift above elbow level to attempt to drain off extra fat!

Once all of our vegetables were nice and soft we added in some flour to make a nice non-floury tasting roux.

The flour turns this gorgeous light brown color, and then you add in the chicken stock and whole milk. Bring it to a boil and plop all of the nicely (now cold) browned chicken back into the pot.

For us, this is when the drama started, the power went out! Luckily, the stove is gas powered, and it was already on, so we could finish cooking the dinner. I do know that you can light a gas stove with a match when there isn't power, but with an infant in the house, I wasn't going to try it for the first time! The good news is that once the chicken was nestled soundly in the cooking liquid, it simply had to simmer away for the next two hours.

After two hours of simmering, and numerous flashlight lit stirrings, we pulled out all of the chicken and shredded it. Then we made the dumplings and dumped the shredded chicken into the pot again and topped with the dumplings.

I covered it and we let it simmer for 15 more minutes and then our lantern lit dinner was served!

Brittney really enjoyed the meal, I don't believe she was actually eating at warp speed, I'm willing to bet is has more to do with my lack of abilities with the dslr camera I was playing around with.

I'm thinking the thought going through her mind at this exact moment is, "Julie, I swear if these pictures end up on your blog, I'm going to beat you!" But, alas here they are...She's gorgeous and enjoying my food, I see no wrong!

Zachary did not like the idea of the power outage, nor did he like the chicken and dumplings. Okay, I guess it isn't fair to say that he didn't like the chicken and dumplings, he didn't try them, he didn't like the idea of them either I suppose.

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