I’m working on an article for Foodwhirl about cooking on a budget and keeping a well-stocked pantry. As I’m looking around for things to make during this last week of the month (when I’ve already maxed out my grocery budget for the month), I realize that I really don’t have a lot of easily discernible meal options. I mean, what’s a girl to do when she opens the fridge to discover this?
Enter the pantry and freezer. Looking through the freezer, I find the 4 chicken thighs left over from when I made Coq au Vin last month, and 3 chicken breasts stashed in the back. I also see some frozen peas. Hmmmmm…what can I make with that?
I’m really craving something warm and hearty, since it’s kind of cold and rainy outside. My mind immediately turns to chicken and dumplings. But I don’t have any chicken stock in the pantry. Hmmmm….what can I do about that?
Well, in my crisper I have part of a wilted bunch of celery and a few wilted green onions. I also have an old yellow onion in dry storage. Those are aromatics. The chicken thighs are bone-in. Well, there you go, the makings of an impromptu chicken stock.
I roasted the thighs and breasts and then pulled the meat off the bones. Added the bones, along with the aromatics (plus a bay leaf, some salt and a few peppercorns) to a pot of water and set it to simmer for a few hours. It won’t be the richest stock I’ve ever made, but it will do the trick in a pinch.
After the stock was done simmering, I removed all the veg and bones and in a separate pot made a light roux with 2 tablespoons flour and 2 tablespoons oil. Whisked that together for a few minutes, then added the stock by ladles-full until I’d emptied the stock pot by half (I’m guessing it was about 6 cups of stock). I added the shredded chicken and frozen peas (2 cups) to this slightly thickened broth and checked for seasoning. Let that simmer for a bit while I mixed up the dumpling dough.
For the dumplings I turn to my favorite quick-drop biscuit recipe. I’m using whole-wheat flour and adding some spinach I whirred up in the food processor to the dough to increase the health benefits.The end result was a light, fluffy dumpling with beautiful flecks of green, which nicely complemented the frozen peas I put in the broth. This pantry meal actually turned out better than a lot of the well-planned and carefully executed meals I’ve made in the past. It just goes to show you that with some ingenuity and handy ingredients, you can make just about anything.