The first post is here! The pressure to bring this to you, dear reader, almost drove me stone crazy. Not only did I have to overcome my crippling procrastination, but I also had to come up with a dish that reflects me and what you can expect from this blog. So after months of months of putting it off, it finally came to me. I decided to write about one of the first dishes that I remember eating — chicken and dumplings.
The meal took place in my grandmother’s kitchen. She was a fantastic cook, and her kitchen was always stocked with a a homemade cake and a dish of fried chicken. On this particular occasion, chicken and dumplings was the dish of the day. I remember eating heartily before I stopped to catch my breath and ask–
“What is dis I’m eatin?”
Laughing, my grandmother replied, “Those are dumplings.”
“Well these dumplings are good!” I declared.
It was a love affair that was short-lived. Once I became vegetarian, chicken and chicken broth were off the menu. My mom has made many southern dishes meatless, but I don’t think she ever tried to recreate chicken and dumplings. I think it’s a dish that is so iconic and so unique, the ruling thought is that there is no authentic substitution. It’s like replicating bacon — there’s not a veggie meat brand alive that successfully mimics the pork (or even turkey) product. Every attempt comes out tasting like sacrifice and disappointment. So to avoid disappointment on fake bacon levels, I resigned myself to the fact that I would never have chicken and dumplings again.
One day, I was trying to figure out what I wanted to cook for dinner. I suddenly remembered a recipe for vegetarian chicken and dumplings posted on the blog Keep it Simple Foods (KSF). What struck me about the recipe was the shape of the dumplings.
My grandmother’s dumplings were flat squares. Many of the other vegetarian chicken and dumpling recipes were shaped like Matzo Balls. I’m sorry, but that’s some straight northern foolery. It probably tastes fine and dandy, but it’s not going to satiate my nostalgia. Therefore, the KFS recipe looked authentic enough to spike my interest, and it was easy to boot. I felt optimistic and decided to give it a shot.
The original recipe did not use any meat substitutes, only veggies, but I had a bag of Gardein chicken strips handy. You could probably substitute seitan (recommended) or baked tofu (not sure how that would turn out). I also added herbs and garlic. The result wasn’t quite grandma’s version, but it was flavorful enough to satisfy my craving. Try it for yourself. It’s definitely not a fakin’ (fake bacon) disappointment. 🙂
Click here for the full recipe.