March 10, 2009

"Chicken" and Dumplings

Ah, this is a wonderful wintertime dish. Note the "Chicken" in quotes for the title. That's vegetarian-speak for "fake chicken". If you don't like quotes in your food, then there is no reason why you couldn't use real chicken instead. I could almost put quotes around "Dumplings" too, since these are gluten-free, so they are, uh, fake dumplings.

My wife also has a thing about eggs in food. She will eat eggs as just eggs, but she doesn't like the smell or taste of egg in other things like cookies, bread, and in this case, dumplings. I have to admit I don't like it anymore now that she has drawn my attention to it. A typical vegan trick is to use flax seed "eggs". This is simply ground-up flax seed mixed with warm water. When you let this sit a few minutes it will become slightly gelatinous and egg-like. We have found this is a near perfect substitute and provides loads of omega-3s. Here is the "recipe" for flax "eggs":
1 egg = 1 T flax seed meal + 3 T warm water
1 egg white = 1 T flax seed meal + 2 T warm water
Once you grind flax seeds, you need to use it immediately else it will spoil. We grind up a large batch and store it in the freezer.

But again, you can use a "real" egg in this recipe. Are "you" sick of "all" these "quotes" yet?

For the fake chicken, we use a package of Chicken Style Smart Strips. These are little soy-based strips with chicken-like taste and texture. They are really amazing, and there is a beef flavor as well.

I left salt out of the ingredients because the broth we use has plenty of salt. But if you use a low-salt or no-salt broth, you may want to add some.

Here are the dumplings after they have cooked. They expand a bit and will likely cover the entire top:
"Chicken" and Dumplings


1 pkg Chicken Style Smart Strips
3 T oil
4 leeks (white and pale green parts only), sliced thin crosswise
5 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 celery rib with leaves, sliced
2 Yukon Gold potatoes, diced
1 small bay leaf
1 t dried thyme, crumbled
2 t dried French tarragon
¼ t black pepper
5 c chicken broth
½ c apple cider


1 c brown rice flour
1/3 c potato starch
1/6 c tapioca flour
¼ c sorghum flour
¼ c yellow cornmeal
2 t baking powder
¼ t salt
¾-1 c milk of choice
1 egg


1. In a large pan or dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over a moderately high heat. Brown the "chicken", about 5 minutes on each side. Remove chicken and set aside.

2. Add the remaining oil to the same pan, add the leeks and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, potatoes, bay leaf, thyme, tarragon, salt and pepper. Cook for another 3 minutes.

3. Pour in the broth and cider. Return browned chicken to the pan. Bring liquids to a boil. Cover and reduce heat. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.

4. Make the dumplings while chicken and vegetables are cooking. Mix together all the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. With a fork, stir in the milk and egg to form a soft dough (a little wetter than biscuit dough).

5. Scoop out golf-ball sized dumplings and place them in the chicken mixture. Simmer covered for 12 minutes. Dumplings are done when a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Discard bay leaf before serving.


  1. Chicken and dumplings are one of my favorite comfort foods. It is nice to see a 'vegan' alternative.

  2. Waivering faith? Why on earth would a vegetarian be interested in a product with a chicken or beef taste? Like I'm gonna start drinking non-alcoholic whiskey...

    Aside from that, sounds quite tasty. Would probably take some digging to find some of your flour choices.

    I see you have a Madhur Jaffrey cookbook as a favorite. I have a couple of hers. An interesting (to me) story...I had been painstakingly dicing up onions into the finest cubes. And then I was in the UK on a course once and I happened to catch a cooking show with her on the hotel TV. I watched in amazement as she chopped up relatively large pieces of onions! My life has been so much easier since then.

    Brother Thomas

  3. There are many reasons for people to go vegetarian, not just a dislike for meat's taste. There are also health, economical, moral, or religious reasons. All of these don't necessarily mean one wouldn't like the taste of meat.

    I personally still like the flavor of meat. Bacon is my favorite herb.