Sunday, January 23, 2011

Waste Not Want Not

When it comes to food or anything used to make food I'm a little bit of a clepto.  I am one of those people who goes to the supermarket knowing that I probably have a box of panko, but just to be sure I need to buy another one.  So needless to say, at one time I think I had five boxes of panko bread crumbs in my cupboard......oh, and I currently have about 5 pounds of Irish butter in my refrigerator, and three bottles of the same type of paprika.  You get the picture. 

One of the more disturbing collections I have rests in peace in my freezer, well, resting in peace until its soup time.  In fact if you peered into my freezer you might question my sanity (although you might without even looking in my freezer), since what you would see are bags and bags of little skeletons.  Whose skeletons would they be?  The numerous chickens and turkeys that gave their lives for my palette, and in my opinion I wouldn't be doing them justice if I didn't maximize their use.  What is the moral to this disturbing tale?  When you cook a chicken or a turkey, don't throw out the bones, you're missing the best a clepto damn it in the worst way!

Now changing gears a little bit the dish created for this post is a tried an true soul endearing dish.  Grandmother's around the world would testify that chicken soup feeds the soul, and in every way I would agree.  You can be on death's bed and feel like you're gonna die and to have a bowl of steaming chicken soup presented to you can lift you from that abyss and make you feel human again.  Is it because it's the best tasting dish ever made?  No.  Don't get me wrong, its delicious, but I think the draw of this dish is the the fact that chicken soup is quite simply, a symbol of love.  And frankly that is what cooking is all about, to show those around you how much you care, and how much the people in our lives mean to us.  At least in my mind that's what it should be about.

Chicken soup inspired, I decided to deviate a little bit and make a traditional variation of this dish, chicken and dumplings.  But after rummaging through my bone collection I stumbled upon a turkey that I made earlier in the fall and decided to go with turkey and dumplings instead of the standard chicken.  So on a Saturday night there was boiling, chopping, and stewing.  I can safely say that making this dish was equally as enjoyable as eating it, because by the end of the night my whole house smelled like turkey soup, and as I turned out the light in my room to go to sleep, the smell of yummy soup still waffling in the air, I found myself reminiscing about the chicken soup moments in my life, and I fell asleep.....easily.

Turkey And Parmesan Dumplings

Cook Time: 2 hours (not including cooking time for the stock)

8 cups turkey or chicken stock (I prefer homemade)
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
2 medium yellow onions chopped
2 medium parsnips chopped
4 large carrots chopped
4 celery stalks chopped
2lbs shredded cooked turkey meat
1 teaspoon thyme
2/3 cup half and half
1/3 cup flour
1-1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup chopped Italian parsley

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
1/2 cup cold butter diced
2/3 cup cold buttermilk

Note: For homemade turkey stock simply take a leftover turkey carcass with a fair bit of meat still on it, I typically have a lot of dark meat left on my turkey's, which works great for this soup.  Cut the carcass up a bit and place in a large stockpot.  Add a couple carrots, celery, onion, garlic, and parsnips to the pot.  Add some fresh herbs such as bay leaves, rosemary, and thyme along with some kosher salt and pepper.  Add about 10 cups of water and simmer covered over medium heat for about three hours.  Strain the stock, reserving all the meat from the turkey.  Let the fat settle and scoop away with a spoon.  Making the stock the day ahead and refrigerating it will make this much easier.

In a large stockpot heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat until the butter is melted.  Add the veggies and sweat until slightly tender, about 8 minutes.  Add the turkey meat and cook until heated through, about 3 minutes.  Add the stock, and the thyme, and bring the soup to a simmer. 

Cook covered on medium low heat for about 45 minutes, occasionally stirring the soup to prevent it from sticking.  To thicken the soup, mix the half and half and flour together.  Add the half and half mixture to the soup slowly, stirring constantly.  Season with the salt, pepper, and parsley.

To make the dumplings, mix the flour and baking powder using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment.  Add the butter and beat until the butter is the size of small peas.  Add the cheese and parsley and mix quickly to combine. 

Add the buttermilk and mix just until combined and the dough comes together in a ball.  Form the dough into about 2-inch sized balls.  Flatten the dough balls into disks and place in the soup.  Turn the heat down to low and cover and cook for about 15 minutes (no peeking).


  1. Wow, this looks great! I just made chicken and dumplings last Friday night, and they turned out alright, nothing too special, but better than expected. I love the big chunks of carrots in your version, very hearty!

  2. Thanks Brandon for the comment, and for reading! It turned out to be a very heart soup, a little went a very long way. Thanks again for the comment and hope you keep reading!