STEP ONE: SLOW COOKER CHICKEN
- One head garlic
- 2 bay leaves
- Some peppercorns
- One small onion
- A few sprigs fresh thyme
- 3-5 lb whole chicken
- Other stock odds and ends if you have them (I save carrot tops, celery tops, onion butts, parsley and dill stems throughout the week for stockmaking)
- Rinse the chicken and place in the slow cooker.
- Season with salt all over and inside.
- Slice the whole head of garlic in half horizontally (do not peel). Place one half inside the the chicken.
- Slice the onion in half vertically (you don't need to peel this either). Place one half inside the chicken.
- Throw the other halves of the garlic head and onion in the slowcooker alongside the chicken.
- Place the thyme sprigs inside the chicken.
- Put the peppercorns and bay leaves in the pot anywhere. Add other stock odds and ends if you have them.
- Cover with water.
- Set on low for 8-12 hours or until falling apart. You really can't overcook the chicken.
- When the chicken is done, take it out with tongs and put in a big bowl or on a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, pull off the meat in big chunks. Set aside.
- Strain the stock and set aside.
STEP TWO: VEGETABLES (works best if you chop these ahead)
- 3 carrots
- 3 celery stalks
- 1 big onion
- 8 mushrooms
- butter, 2 tbsp
- olive oil, enough to drizzle over the butter so it doesn't burn (you can also use just butter or just olive oil)
- Chop or julienne the vegetables if you want to be fancy. Slice the mushrooms.
- Melt the butter and oil in a big pot over medium heat.
- Add the vegetables and saute until the onions soften.
- Pour the reserved stock over all.
- Lower heat and bring to slow boil.
STEP THREE: DUMPLINGS
We are gluten-free so we are still perfecting our dumpling recipe. I've made delicate drop dumplings with baking soda, and bready ones that just sit on top.
The recipe we made was for firmer spaetzle-y/gnocchi hybrid dumplings. Here it is:
- 1.5 cups G-free flour blend (I recommend a superfine brown rice, potato and tapioca blend, but you could use just plain brown rice... one caution I have is to stay away from storebought blends based on garbanzo (chickpea) flour because they're just too heavy and bitter) OR regular old flour plus more for making firmer if you want, also for dusting
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp salt (or more to taste)
- chopped dill, 1 tbs
- chopped parsley, 1 tbsp
- milk or sour cream if needed
This isn't an exact science. It really depends on how firm you like your dumplings. I wanted dumplings I could roll into ropes and cut into little 1/2 inch pieces.
- Scramble your eggs and whisk in the salt and flour. If you like drop dumplings you can make the dough wetter by adding milk or sour cream until you get a wet consistency that you can drop off the edge of the spoon (like cookie dough). Mix in chopped herbs.
- If you want firmer, denser dumplings, keep adding flour a little at a time (and this will require a little more salt too) until you get a dough that sticks together and can be molded into a shape or rolled into ropes or even rolled flat on a floured surface. You can cut little pieces from the ropes or you can make free-form noodles if you roll the dough totally flat. You can also just stand over your pot and pinch pieces of the dough into it.
- Drop your dumplings into the simmering stock with the vegetables in it.
- When they float, they're probably done, but taste one to be sure. You don't want the inside raw and the outside cooked.
- Add the chicken meat and heat through.
- Season broth for salt/pepper.
- If you have extra chopped herbs add them at the very end so they stay bright green.