Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving Leftovers: Nana Grenon's Ragout

My nana's mother was by all accounts a lovely woman and very talented at cooking in the old fashioned "a pinch of this, enough of that, cook until it's done" style. My nana was the baby of the family, and for a time after she had my father, she and my grampy lived with her parents. The result of this is that my father was completely beloved and spoiled by his grandparents. Grampy Grenon would wake my father up early and take him everywhere with him. His nana (Nana Grenon) would always cook up my father's favorites. One of his absolute all time favorites is Nana's Chicken Ragout. It also happens to be an ideal use of Thanksgiving leftovers. Nana Grenon is French Canadian, and like many French Canadian dishes this is meant to stretch a meal, with the dumplings being a substantial part of the soup. It's the French Canadian version of chicken noodle soup, and it's perfect comfort food. Feel free to adjust or adapt the ingredients. Think like a grandmother.


For the soup -
1 C onion, chopped
1 C celery chopped (I mince mine because Ryan does not like celery)
2 C carrots (cut into disks, coins, whatever you call them)
5-6 C chicken stock (or turkey stock) preferably homemade
salt and pepper
2-3 T olive oil
1 T sage
1 T thyme
approximately 2 C of chopped leftover chicken or turkey. Use what you have. The dumplings will make up for it if you don't have enough. You can use chopped white meat or all the little bits you have, it's up to you.

For the dumplings -
1 C stock - cooled
2.5 C flour
salt and pepper

Pour the oil in a large stockpot. Add the onion and celery and cook on low for about 5 minutes. Add the stock, carrots and whatever chicken or turkey bits you're add. Add salt and pepper for taste. This recipe takes a lot of salt, so taste carefully. Bring the stock almost to a boil. While you're waiting for it to boil, make the dumplings. Use a cup of cool stock (I usually set it aside before I start cooking) and mix it together with the flour and about a teaspoon of salt and a pinch of pepper. Add about 2 t fresh thyme to the dumplings if you like. The thyme is completely inauthentic, but it is tasty. The dough will be incredibly sticky and hard to work with. With very well floured hands, roll out the dough very thin. If you don't get it thin you will have yucky gloppy dumplings. Make sure you move the dough a lot while rolling and keep it well floured. When it's thin (maybe less than a 1/4 inch thick?) slice in 1" squares. These can be very irregular, it gives the soup character. When the stock is very hot but not boiling, Add the thyme and sage and throw in the squares of dough and cook for 3-5 more minutes until the dough is cooked.

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