Saturday, December 3, 2011

Saving a Favorite

As we sat newly stuffed in front of our Thanksgiving dinner plates, I was already cataloging the leftovers. And when I mentioned ragout my father's face fell. He hadn't thought about ragout. It's not one of the big, obvious in your face things that he can't eat like pasta or pizza. It's just one of his childhood favorites that happens to have homemade dumplings. I reassured him without even being sure of what I could accomplish. I promised that I would come over and make him ragout and that it would be okay. And of course I went over and made it and much to my great relief (and I'll admit, amazement) it really was okay. More than okay. It was completely saved. So just in case someone else out there is longing for some chicken and dumplings that are safely gluten-free, here's my nana's ragout:


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 gluten-free flour - I used Annalise Robert's mix, which you can either find in her cookbook Gluten-Free Baking Classics or purchase it ready mixed from Authentic Foods.
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 gluten-free 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 sticky and hard to work with. Roll out the dough between two pieces of Saran Wrap, you can use cheaper rice flour to assist in the de-sticking of the dough. If you don't get it thin you will have yucky gloppy dumplings. When it's thin (maybe less than a 1/4 inch thick?) slice in 1" squares. These can and will be very irregular, some will sort of stick as you pick them up, I sort of use the knife to scrape them up and then drop them in the soup as described below. Don't worry about the irregularity, 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.

The soup is better on the second or third day because the flavors will meld.

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