Thursday, August 21, 2008
I've got it: Irish Food
I woke up yesterday with the motivation to cook. It happens that way sometimes, I suddenly find myself hovering around the kitchen opening and closing the fridge only to realize that I've been there for hours, basking in the glow through the milk jug, wanting something I can't see.
The truth is I'm terrible at coming up with meals from the things we have. I'm good for one or two days after a trip to the grocery store, but afterward I look into the heart of the refrigerator and see nothing but parts that don't fit together. A hotdog... tortilla... salad? Egg battered Cheerios? This is less delicious than I would have liked.
So at breakfast, nothing came of my motivation, then lunch passed without breaking the stalemate, and it was only after Dana and I got out of Tropic Thunder and she declared she was going to make Irish soda bread that it all clicked together. We stopped off at the store on the way home and then whipped up this fantastic Irish meal with the soda bread recipe that Nicole passed along to us years ago and a pot of Irish Chicken & Dumplings that we'd made twice before as a St. Patrick's Day option for those not brave enough to tackle our corned beef and cabbage.
The soda bread turned out lovely, a dense sweet loaf dotted with raisins, and the chicken & dumplings was easily the most filling meal ever devised by man. After a little bowl of this stuff we were egregiously, sinfully full, and I truly don't know how that works. It's essentially a stew, sure, so it's chock full of carrots and potatoes and shredded chicken, but together its constituent parts come together to form a meal that swells like shaving cream immediately upon contact with stomach acid. I've never made chicken & dumplings when we didn't have a crowd over to consume it, and maybe that was a blessing I'd previously been unaware of. The huge bowl of leftovers we retained is going to hold us for a month at least, and we're going to be hard pressed to keep this a single six pound dumpling from replacing Thanksgiving Dinner out of pure necessity.
You can find the recipe for the Irish Chicken & Dumplings here, though I suggest you reduce the dumpling portion by at least half if you don't want your stovetop covered in par-boiled bread lumps, and I double the amount of potatoes (cut them smaller than it suggests. Trust me.) and salt, and sub in various herbs (oregano, thyme, marjoram, basil, a little coriander) for the generic "poultry seasoning" which just sounds like a culinary disaster rubbing its salty little hands together, waiting to happen.
It's really a fantastic dish if you have the time and the stomach capacity to handle it, substantially superior to most dishes featured on allrecipes.com.