There’s nothing wrong with the recipe in today’s Respect Your Elders. In fact, it’s pretty much 110% right.
Niffles! Tell people you’re making Niffles and they’ll eat whatever you make. But the real thing sounds pretty good too: a beautifully poached chicken coated with butter served with dumplings on the side and topped with gravy. In fact, I’m going to refrain from the grumpiness you all seem to enjoy seeing me get worked into and present you with a straightforward re-write of the recipe. If this makes you sad, read yesterday’s post. I stick my head into a hole in my mom’s deck.
Chicken ‘N Niffles
like I said, it’s just deconstructed chicken and dumplings and could conceivably be made on two separate days, the first where you cook the chicken and broth, and the second where you make the Niffles and gravy, but as long as you’re going to get your kitchen all filthy you might as well just make it in one day.
4 pounds of skinless chicken pieces with bones (I vote thighs, personally)
1 carrot, cut into several large pieces
1 celery stalk, cut into several large pieces
1 small yellow onion, cut into eighths
a handful of fresh parsley, stalks and all
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. whole peppercorns
2 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. butter, melted
2 C. flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 c. cold water
2 or more Tbsp. corn starch
more parsley to top final dish with
- Don’t bother rinsing the chicken or anything, it just spreads the salmonella around. Place the chicken in a large soup pot, just cover with water and add everything but the butter. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and allow the chicken to cook down until it falls off the bone, about 2 hours.
- Remove chicken from the broth and allow to cool a little before picking the meat off the bone. Discard the bones. If eating soon, coat the chicken in melted butter, cover, and keep warm in oven (about 250°). If not eating right away, cover and refrigerate.
- Drain the broth through a sieve and discard the chunks. If you’re so inclined, you can spoon some of the liquid fat off the broth or even take it too far and chill the broth and then lift the solidified fat off, but if you do that then you probably should just eat some plain rice for dinner. Return the broth to a smaller saucepan and bring to a very gentle, low simmer.
- To make the Niffles, put the flour and salt in a medium bowl and make a well in the center. Add the eggs and using a fork, mix it all together to make a thick dough. Add water in small increments until you can drop soft but intact blobs of dough from the end of a spoon (you can use two spoons or your fingers to facilitate this process). You may not need all the water. Drop small blobs, like the size of mini Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups into the simmering chicken broth, about 10 at a time. Let them cook for about five minutes and then scoop them out into a plate lined with a paper towel. Continue until all the dough is used.
- Thicken as much of the chicken broth as you’d like to make into gravy, using cornstarch by making a slurry of 1 tablespoon of starch with a few spoonfuls of cold water per 3/4 cup of broth. Stir the slurry into the broth and simmer to thicken. If not thick enough, add another tablespoon of slurry mix.
- Serve chicken with a side of Niffles and top the whole mess with gravy and a healthy handful of chopped fresh parsley.
That’s it. This is literal good old-fashioned comfort food, the kind great-grandma used to make. Even better is the quote at the end from Lucy, whom we neither know of nor really what the hell she’s talking about here:
“When we barbecue steaks I make the batter and drop the Niffles into boiling salted water instead of chicken broth.”
Okay, so far so good.
“I drain them quickly, toss them in brown butter and pop a couple of big spoonfuls on each steak plate.”
“This way we get all the good steak juice without dunking.”
Wait, what? Without dunking what? The steak back into the steak juice? Something else not yet mentioned? Who knows, and Lucy’s long dead. Long live Niffles!