Kitchen Wit & Wisdom: Comfort food helps to turn up the heat

Winter is coming; time to cook comfort foods that are warm and filling

November has arrived and with it my panic just thinking about the winter that might suddenly appear like it did in the east. Good grief, I’m not finished my fall chores yet!

Our wharf is still in the water; I just picked the last of my tomatoes, dug my bulbs, and tore out my long-blooming flower plants yesterday.

With this in mind I decided I need comfort foods, something to soothe the psyche. Things like macaroni and cheese, or meatloaf and mashed potatoes, or how about tuna casserole, chicken and dumplings: all do the trick for me. Anything that brings comforting memories from childhood can be called comfort food.

Chicken and Dumplings

1 pound medium baking potatoes, preferably russets, scrubbed

2 teaspoons salt

1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 pound), halved

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 1 pound)

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 Tablespoons canola or other vegetable oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 celery stalks, thinly sliced

2 medium carrots, thinly sliced

1 garlic clove, minced

1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

One 12-ounce bottle beer, preferably an amber lager

2 teaspoons fresh thyme

2 teaspoons minced fresh sage

2 cups chicken stock

1 bay leaf

1 Tbsp. cornstarch

Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook until tender when pierced with a fork, about 40 minutes. Drain and cool just until you can handle them. Slip the skins off with your fingers or a paring knife, then press the potatoes through a potato ricer into a large bowl. Stir in 1 teaspoon of the salt and the nutmeg, then set aside.

Season the chicken breasts and thighs with the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper. Heat a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Swirl in the oil, then add the chicken breasts to brown them, about a minute per side, turning them with tongs or a spatula. (If you shake the pan immediately after they have gone in, they will not stick.) Transfer the breasts to a platter and add the thighs to the pan. Brown them, about a minute per side, then transfer to the platter with the chicken breasts. Tent with foil to keep warm.

Add the onion, celery and carrots to the pan. Cook until soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Sprinkle the 1 tablespoon flour over the entire mixture; cook for 15 seconds, stirring constantly. Whisk in the beer, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan; continue whisking until mixture thickens, about a minute. Stir in  thyme and sage, then stock and bay leaf. Let sauce come to a simmer, then add chicken breasts and thighs along with any accumulated juices. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, gently stir the 1/3 cup flour and the cornstarch into the potatoes with a wooden spoon just until smooth. Do not beat. Discard bay leaf from stew.

Scoop up scant 1/4 cups of potato mixture and lay them on top of stew. Do not cover stew completely with dumplings — rather, let them sit like clouds on its surface. Cover and steam dumplings for 10 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes, then serve.  Yield: 4 servings

For Chicken and Garlic Dumplings:  Stir 2 finely minced garlic cloves into riced potatoes while warm.

1950s-Style Meat Loaf

1-1/2 pounds ground beef (chuck is best)

1/2 pound ground pork sausage (seasoned or not)

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup fine bread crumbs

1 to 2 large cloves of garlic, pressed

1 cup diced sweet onion

1/4 cup diced green bell pepper

1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed

Freshly ground pepper to taste

1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 package dry onion soup mix

1/2 cup milk

1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste, divided

2 to 4 strips bacon, cut in half (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine ground beef, pork sausage, eggs, bread crumbs, garlic, sweet onion, bell pepper, oregano, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, onion soup mix, milk and half the tomato paste. Gently mix only until combined. Do not overwork the meat or it will become tough.

Form into loaf. Cover with remaining half can of tomato paste. Weave bacon strips over top. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let meatloaf rest 15 minutes before cutting to serve.

Yield: 8 servings.

Cathi Litzenberger is The Morning Star’s longtime food columnist who writes weekly.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A portion of 34th Street will be closed to through traffic as of Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, while sewer upgrades are underway. (City of Vernon)
Sewer upgrades to close Vernon road

Motorists are to expect some delays around portion of 34th Street starting Wednesday

This dog is going to the SPCA if its owner isn't found. (RDNO Dog Control photo)
Owners sought after dog ‘dumped’ near Vernon school

Pup is now either getting adopted or going to the SPCA

A member of the M.V. Beattie Elementary School community tested positive for COVID-19, according to a statement issued Jan. 17, 2021. (photo submitted)
COVID-19 exposure at Enderby elementary

Member of school community tests positive for virus

A warrant was issued for Darwyn Sellars, 31, on Nov. 4, 2019, according to Black Press. (CrimeStoppers)
List of guilty pleas entered along with Westwold shootout

Sentencing delayed against Darwyn Sellars, who pleaded guilty to a rack of charges

Vernon-born Justin J. Moore’s music video for Someone Who Loved You Can captures Kelowna’s city vibe. (Justin J. Moore - YouTube)
WATCH: ‘hyper-talented’ team behind Okanagan-centric music video

New Justin J. Moore music video shot in Kelowna, Armstrong with team of 20-somethings

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

An Abbotsford man was killed in a motor vehicle accident on Highway 3 on Monday, Jan. 18. (Black Press file photo)
Abbotsford man killed in Highway 3 crash near Hedley

Fatality was discovered by passing tow truck driver

A Trail man has a lucky tin for a keepsake after it saved him from a stabbing last week. File photo
Small tin in Kootenay man’s jacket pocket saved him from stabbing: RCMP

The man was uninjured thanks to a tin in his jacket

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chantel Moore, 26, was fatally shot by a police officer during a wellness check in the early morning of June 4, 2020, in Edmundston, N.B. (Facebook)
Frustrated family denied access to B.C. Indigenous woman’s police shooting report

Independent investigation into B.C. woman’s fatal shooting in New Brunswick filed to Crown

Delta Police Constable Jason Martens and Dezi, a nine-year-old German Shepherd that recently retired after 10 years with Delta Police. (Photo submitted)
Dezi, a Delta police dog, retires on a high note after decade of service

Nine-year-old German Shepherd now fights over toys instead of chasing down bad guys

Nurses collect samples from a patient in a COVID suspect room in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
5 British Columbians under 20 years old battled COVID-19 in ICU in recent weeks

Overall hospitalizations have fallen but young people battling the virus in hospital has increased

Canada released proposed regulations Jan. 2 for the fisheries minister to maintain Canada’s major fish stocks at sustainable levels and recover those at risk. (File photo)
New laws would cement DFO accountability to depleted fish stocks

Three B.C. salmon stocks first in line for priority attention under proposed regulations

Trees destroyed a Shoreacres home during a wind storm Jan. 13, 2021. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay woman flees just before tree crushes house

Pamala DeRosa is thankful to be alive

Gin voices his view of having his photo taken as Ken and Karleen Kantymir pose with him and his brother Tonic. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
Sheep’s quirky antics keep Salmon Arm couple entertained

Until they bought two sheep, Ken and Karleen Kantymir didin’t realize just how social the animals are

Most Read