I had to be careful. If I blew it, Suzen was not going to make this dish for me. I could not seem selfish or self-serving. That requires enormous concentration and energy. You could argue that if I just focused on being … What fun is that?
“You, uh, you do like jalapenos?” I asked her.
She put down the paper and her coffee. “What are you talking about? Are we married or not?”
“No, no,” I said. “It’s just with the acid reflux you’ve been having, I wondered if you could eat, say, a cooked jalapeno?”
“Cooking in what?” she asked. Her eyebrows were up. If our cat’s ears are up, I know that is good. If Suzen’s eyebrows are up, and her ears are twitching, that’s bad.
“Cooked in a little cheese. Sort of soothing.” I had to back her down.
“Maybe.” The eyebrows lowered. “Show me.” She extended her hand.
I passed her our new copy of The Whole Hog Cookbook by Libbie Summers. It was open to the picture of this chili with its jalapeno cheese dumplings.
She seized book, staring with the recipe but here attention immediately shifted to the picture: a steaming bowl of chili topped with dumplings. Her eyebrows descended fully. The ears were motionless. Her eyes shifted to me. “Why the hell didn’t you say so? Get your wallet. We’re going to Whole Foods.”
This book, The Whole Hog Cookbook, is brilliant, one of the best cookbooks we’ve seen in a year. Author Libbie Summers has earned her credibility with a lifetime in food. She began as girl visiting her grandparents’ hog farm in Missouri. She’s been a private chef on yachts [tough work but someone has to do it], worked for many food companies, is a food stylist master [see the pictures in this book], and is now the “driving force in kitchens of Paula Dean.”
Every time you turn the page in this book, you stop. You may want to begin cooking at once, or you may need to read to make sure you understand what the devil you are looking at:
- Sweet Potato Pork Pie
- Sweet Tea-Brined Pork Roast
- Buttery Potted Ham
- Prosciutto Pretzel Knots
- Bacon Beignets
- Rosemary Bacon Scones
This is one of those cookbooks that you’ll keep close at hand. You can cook your way through it all this fall and winter.
Besides the recipes, there well-photographed how-to sections demonstrating techniques for preparing your meat, like how to remove the membranes from pork ribs. Literally everything you need to know for creating outstanding pork dishes is all here in this craftily written work.
Oh, the dumplings? Oh, those dumplings. I love this chili, and it is a bit spicy, but the dumplings are what will bring the tears to your eyes.
Hog-Tied and Hungry Chile with Jalapeno Cheese Dumplings
Yield: 6 servings
For the chili:
- 1 pound dried black beans, rinsed and drained 1 pound ground pork
- 1 large sweet onion, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 (4 ½ ounce) cans chopped green chiles
- 1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, minced
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 tablespoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 (28-ounce) can crushed San Marzano tomatoes
- 2 cups tomato juice
- 2 cups pork stock (page 154)
- 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
For the dumplings:
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup masa harina
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup milk
- 1 tablespoon lard or vegetable shortening, melted
- 2 teaspoons honey
- ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 jalapeno chile, seeded and minced
In a large stockpot, cover the beans with 3 inches cold water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, simmer for 2 hours, or until the beans are fork tender. Drain the beans and set aside.
In the same large stockpot, cook the pork until the meat is no longer pink. Stir in the onion, garlic, green chiles, chipotle, chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper.
Sauté for 10 minutes, or until the onion is translucent. Stir in the beans, tomatoes, tomato juice, stock and chocolate. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the dumplings: Whisk together the all-purpose flour, masa harina, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate mixing bowl whisk together the egg, milk, lard, and honey.
Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined. Stir in the cheese and jalapenos.
Drop heaping tablespoons of the dumping dough into the simmering chili, leaving a little space between the dumplings so they do not touch. Cover and simmer 20 minutes. Do not lift the lid while the dumplings are cooking. The dumplings should be firm to the touch, still moist in the center. Serve hot.
Source: The Whole Hog Cookbook by Libbie Summers
I have the flu. Not pleasant. But being an optimist, I always seek to make the best out of a bad situation.
“How are you?” Suzen asked.
“Awful,” I said. Then I coughed. She grimaced. She can’t take me being sick. I coughed again. Softening her up.
“Do you want anything?” she said.
“Well,” I began, “I really am hungry. Maybe,” I stopped to cough again, “maybe some chicken.”
“Yes,” she sounded relieved. “I can do that.” She turned to walk away.
“With dumplings,” I added very softly.
She turned back. Examined me. Appraised me. “Okay,” she said. “But,” her finger was waggling, “if I find flu pills in the bathroom, if I find you’ve been milking this situation, …”
Silly woman. I don’t have any flu-creating pills in the bathroom. That would be stupid. If I had any at all, they’d be in the plastic box in the basement where I keep the nails.
This excellent recipe is from the new edition of the Good Housekeeping Cookbook. The dumplings are much better than those “out of the box” ones. Much better. You are supposed to get an even dozen of them but Suzen made them extra large, as you can see in the picture, and we only got seven. They are better than prescription drugs. The dumplings are now all gone. I feel a relapse coming on.
Chicken with Rosemary Dumplings
Yield: serves 4-6
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 6 large bone-in chicken breast halves (3 ¼ pounds), skin removed
- 4 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 large stalks celery, cut into ¼-inch thick slices
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary or ½ teaspoon dried rosemary, crumbled
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 large 3gg
- 1 ½ cups milk
- 2 cups water
- 1 can (14 ½ ounces) low-sodium
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 package (10 ounces) frozen peas
In an 8-quart Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat until very hot. Add 3 chicken breast halves; cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes per side. With tongs, transfer chicken pieces to a bowl as they are browned. Repeat with the remaining chicken.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to dripping s in the Dutch oven. Add carrots, celery, and onion and cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are golden brown and tender, about 10 minutes.
Prepare the dumplings. In a small bowl, combine 1 cup flour, baking powder, rosemary, and ½ teaspoon salt. In a cup, with a fork, beat the egg with ½ cup of the milk. Stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture until just blended.
Return the chicken to the Dutch oven. Add the water, broth, pepper, and remaining ½ teaspoon of salt. Heat to boiling over high heat. Drop the dumpling mixture by rounded tablespoons on top of the chicken and vegetables to make 12 dumplings. Reduce the heat; cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
With a slotted spoon, transfer the dumplings, chicken, and vegetables to serving a serving bowl; keep warm. Reserve the broth in the Dutch oven.
In a cup, blend the remaining 2 tablespoons flour with the remaining 1 cup of milk until smooth; stir into the broth mixture. Heat to boiling over high heat; boil 1minute to thicken slightly. Add the peas and heat through. Pour the sauce over the chicken and dumplings.
We made these with scallions, not chives. And we did not have frozen peas but we had a can of corn. They both proved to be excellent substitutes.
Source: The Good Housekeeping Cookbook: 125th Anniversary Edition