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Microwave . . .

Succulent Chicken and Dumplings--Just Like Mother's

May 11, 1989|JEAN ANDERSON and ELAINE HANNA | Anderson and Hanna are nutritionists and cookbook authors specializing in microwave cookery. and

Who'd have guessed that chicken and dumplings could be prepared by microwave? Start to finish?

They can--and with great success--despite the fact that there's been plenty of controversy as to whether you can--or can't--make decent dumplings in a microwave.

"They never plump," people complain. Or, "They deflate before I can get them to the table."

Our dumplings don't--but it did take considerable trial and error on our part to come up with decent microwave dumplings.

Something else we've discovered in our years of microwave experiments is that this space-age oven isn't just a speed demon. For stews and such, it makes a nifty "slow cooker."

Among a microwave's other great advantages is that it often simplifies the cooking of old favorites, and indeed even makes certain recipes practically fail-safe. Stews, for example, are far less likely to stick or scorch in a microwave oven than they are on top of the stove. Chicken stews, especially, cook in a fraction of the time and are every bit as flavorful as those that have simmered half the day.

Follow our recipe instructions exactly, don't substitute ingredients and use casseroles as specified.

OLD-TIME CHICKEN AND DUMPLINGS

1 (2 1/2- to 3-pound) chicken, disjointed and skinned

1 medium onion, cut in 8 wedges

1 medium carrot, peeled, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/2-inch thick

1 medium stalk celery, peeled, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/2-inch thick

1 bay leaf

1 sprig fresh parsley

1 sprig fresh thyme

6 peppercorns

4 whole cloves

Salt

1 1/2 cups water

1 cup sifted flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

2 tablespoons chilled shortening

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup whipping cream

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

Arrange chicken in 4-quart casserole with meaty parts toward outside and wings in center. Add onion, carrot and celery.

Tie bay leaf, parsley, thyme, peppercorns and cloves in square of cheesecloth. Dissolve 1 teaspoon salt in water. Add to chicken and vegetables along with herb bundle. Cover with lid or vented plastic wrap and microwave on HIGH (100% power) 18 to 22 minutes, turning chicken and rearranging at half time, just until tender.

Sift flour, baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt into medium bowl. Cut in shortening with pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal, then set aside.

Lift chicken and vegetables with slotted spoon to heated deep platter. Cover with foil and keep warm. Skim fat from casserole broth. Cover and microwave on HIGH about 1 minute until broth boils.

Meanwhile, add milk to dumpling mixture all at once and mix lightly, just until dough holds together. Drop dough by rounded tablespoons on top of boiling broth, spacing evenly.

Microwave, uncovered, on HIGH 6 to 7 minutes, rotating casserole 180 degrees at half-time, until wood pick inserted in center of 1 or 2 dumplings comes out clean. When done, dumplings will be puffy and look dry on top.

Lift dumplings with slotted spoon to chicken platter. Stir cream, lemon juice and pepper into broth. Season to taste with salt. Ladle sauce over chicken and dumplings. Makes 4 servings.

Note: In ovens of less than 600 watts, increase cooking times about 15%.

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