Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Vegan Chicken & Dumplings

Okay, I'm on to something here folks. This is a recipe that I've made up and it's been floating around in my head for probably close to six months now. Well, I finally got around to trying it last night, just to see what I would end up with, and all I can say is that it is AMAZING. This is so close to the Chicken & Dumplings that I used to make back when I ate meat that it's scary. I was actually surprised at how well it came out for a first try. The main thing that I DID learn is that I need to add more vegetable broth at the end next time because it was just a little bit short on the liquid part. Not bad though. I think I'll also try leaving all of the fat out of the dumpling part next time too because I mean, do you really need it if the dumplings are going to be absorbing all that moisture from the broth? I don't think so. The "chicken" in this dish is actually a simple seitan, but don't worry, you just make it as you go along and it's really easy. It doesn't require hours of cooking either. I made this batch, from start to finish, in probably 75-80 minutes. So what did I do?

First, get a big pot, like you would cook spaghetti in, and mix up your cooking broth. This is what you will cook the chicken-style seitan that you make in, and it will also become the liquid part of the Chicken & Dumplings. It's YUMMY! Just stir all of this together in your big pot:

4 cups water
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
4 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp rubbed sage (the dried powdery kind in the little metal spice can)
1/2 tsp rubbed thyme (the dried powdery kind in the little metal spice can)
1/2 tsp celery seed
1/8 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp salt
I put it a little fresh ground black pepper also, not much, just a few turns of the pepper mill

Now, get this started heating up to boiling, and while that happens, in a mixer (I used a KitchenAid mixer with the paddle attachment, NOT the dough hook) stir together the following:

1 cup vital wheat gluten
1/4 cup chickpea flour (besan flour)
1 cup water

Let this knead for 5 minutes or so until your broth is boiling, then turn the heat down to simmer and, once it's not vigorously boiling anymore take your big rubbery ball of gluten that you made and start pulling off really small pieces with your fingers and dropping them into the broth (Don't let the broth boil anymore from this point forward or your seitan will puff up too much). You want to make sure that the pieces are really small, smaller than you would want a bite of "chicken" to be because they will swell up quite a bit as they cook. This took a couple of minutes because I tore my pieces off really small. Just remember that each little piece that you drop in there will be one bite of "chicken", so keep them very small.

Now, just cover this pot and let the stuff simmer for an hour or so. I let mine go 60 minutes. Who knows, you might be able to get away with 45 minutes since there's another 20 minutes of cooking once you add the dumplings. But I cooked mine for an hour. Briefly remove the cover and stir everything around every 10-15 minutes or so just to keep everything separated.

When you get close to the end of your cooking time, then you can start mixing up the dumplings. In a bowl, mix these things together:

2 cups flour
5 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

Now cut in (with a fork):
2 tbsp Earth Balance Margarine
2 tbsp vegetable shortening

I dare say that you could probably leave all of this fat out completely since the dumplings will be so moist from steam cooking in the broth. Now just stir in Soy Milk with a fork until you get a nice ball of dough that you can work with. I have no idea about the amount. I just keep pouring a little in at a time and stirring with a fork. When it's absorbed all of the flour and the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl, then I know it's ready.

I poured in 3/4 cup of vegetable broth into the pot at this point just to increase the amount of liquid. It will thicken up from the flour in the dumplings. Next time though, I think I need to add at least another whole 15 oz. can of vegetable broth (in addition to the 3/4 cup) because mine came out a little short on liquid. I guess it just depends on how "soupy" you want it. At this point, I also turned the heat up on my pot a little bit to MED-LOW. Now, just uncover the pot and pinch off little pieces of the dough and drop into the broth, just like you did with the gluten. I like to keep these small too. You can also roll this out and cut it into little squares and drop into the broth, but I like mine dropped on top like this. Now, after you get all that dropped in, just replace the lid and let them cook for about 10 minutes like that, then uncover them and let them cook another 10 minutes or so, until you think they are done. Then just give the whole thing a good stir and you're done!

This recipe still needs a little bit of work, but not much. Probably just figuring out the exact amount of veggie broth to add at the end. The texture of the "chicken" pieces is so much like those little cubes of real chicken in those cheap frozen pot pies that it is frightening. This is gonna' be one of my favorite vegan comfort foods, I can already tell you. This would be a good way to start out making a Vegan Chicken Pot Pie too. Anyway, if any of you try this I would interested to hear what you think about it, and what you try different. If you liked Chicken & Dumplings when you were an omnivore (if you ever were) then you NEED to make this. It's good.

To go along with the Chicken & Dumplings I just brought some veggies; some Peas & Carrots and some Sweet Yellow Corn. And for dessert I just threw together some Sunflower Seeds, some Raisins & a few Dried Apricots.

So there you have it, my yummy lunch for Tuesday. I even gave a couple of bites of it to an omnivore at work and they confirmed that this DOES indeed taste like Chicken & Dumplings. WOW!

So thanks for checking out my blog today and I'll see everybody on Wednesday.


Anonymous said...

Wow Ken! This recipe looks fascinating. Thanks for sharing your creativity and enthusiasm with us.


bazu said...

Wow, I'm really excited about thir recipe. I'm a former chicken and dumpling soup addict, and haven't found the right vegan substitute yet. I'm a little apprehensive about making my own seitan, since I've never done it before, but this makes it sound so easy and delicious! If I try it, I'll definitely let you know how it turned out. Thanks!

SusanV said...

This looks wonderful! I love how you used the same broth to cook the seitan and the dumplings (so many recipes throw out the seitan-cooking liquid, a waste I think.) I would love to try this as a chicken pot pie. Thanks for sharing!

NightOwl said...

It looks/sounds fantastic! Thank you so much for sharing the recipe!

Melanie said...

i can't get my family to deal with seitan, but i love the stuff myself. i wonder if this freezes well...can't see why not. one thing: is it really necessary to have a big pot of broth for cooking the seitan, rather than just a little saucepan? it just seems wasteful. but maybe it's like pasta and you need all the water to keep it from being sticky?

kennyboy said...

Thanks everybody. I hope somebody else likes this besides me. :o)

Hey SusanV! That is EXACTLY why this recipe seemed like such a natural to me. I just kept thinking, "There HAS to be some use for this broth." I always disliked making seitan that way because I thought it was wasteful.

Hey Melanie! I don't use this as seitan for other dishes. It's not my favorite for that. If I'm wanting a big batch of seitan to cut up and use in other dishes then I do the baked type that doesn't use any broth. I used to use a bunch of broth and then throw it out, like I showed back in that blog post way back when. But I don't like to make it that way anymore. I guess I should do another tutorial sometime on the baked method that I like to use now...

All that broth in this recipe becomes the soupy part of the Chicken & Dumplings. You don't throw anything out. In fact, I ended up needing more liquid in mine because I wished they had been a little bit soupier. So I'm gonna' add some more veggie broth at the end next time after the gluten is all firmed up.

kennyboy said...

I hope you try this bazu. If you liked chicken & dumplings I think you will like this.

It's really easy. It just took a lot of words to explain it.

Okra Mary said...

Holy crap, kennyboy!!

You don't know how excited I was when I saw this recipe. I was at work and almost squealed from my cubicle.

I'm making some baked seitan right now - my first try. It's the Seitan O Greatness one from the PPK boards.

My mom used to make a pot pie like this, with real chicken, that I loved as a kid. She'd mix cream of veggie soup, frozen mixed veggies (like the ones you put in your lunches) and chopped cooked chicken as the base. Then she made a crust with pre-made biscuits and baked it all. There's got to be a way to transform this to that...

Sorry for the rambling...but I can't wait to try this!

Anonymous said...

I just found your blog and love it. It truely amazes me all of the lunches that you come up with. I was really excited about finding this recipe because it looked so easy to do and it was!
I made this for our staff meeting and everyone loved it. I used double broth and used poultry seasoning instead of the other spices. and added a bag of mixed veggies at the end. I was the only vegan in the group and felt great having a compasionate dinner! I will keep checking back for your return.