Bob requested chicken and dumplings last night, and I complied. It was one of those efforts where I couldn't get the ingredient I wanted, but I liked the last resort I was stuck with better than what I'd have done in the first place, so I'm a better cook today.
Specifically, the local market chain Haggen, under new out-of-state ownership, has decided not to carry much in the way or Organic or Free Range chicken any more. Definitely no whole ones (whole only in the conventional birds), and just a few parts boneless-skinless parts. The one closest to me only carries breasts now. The one I stopped at yesterday, in another part of town, had thighs and breasts. Neither were what I had in mind as I typically make chicken and dumplings with the whole bird, but that's tradition talking. And it's my own tradition, the only chicken and dumplings I've had in my whole life besides a brief sample at an uncle's house when I was maybe 13, is what I've made and loved. Never used a recipe, just made what I thought would taste good and I believed that a whole bird would have the most and best flavor.
Stuck with what looked like no good options yesterday, and having no extra time to go where I could have gotten what I wanted, I chose boneless/skinless thighs which later were dredged in flour, salt and pepper before a light poaching in chicken broth with a lot of dried, rubbed sage and a shot of white vermouth.
I will never go back to whole-bird. Cooking, of course, was so easy. Didn't have to worry about separating the fat before making a gravy; instead I added more flour at the start of cooking and when the chicken was cooked and ready for the dumplings, I had a perfect gravy with no further tampering required. And it was a much better looking plate as I could layer the elements, as well as a better-eating plate. Silky textures hardly needed a knife, and there were no bones or skin to set aside. Chicken and dumplings has always been, to me, homey food, comfort food, but now I see the potential for the elegance I usually strive for no matter what I'm making.
So just a suggestion: if you, too, love this dish and have been wedded to bone-in chicken, consider using just b/s thighs next time. Like me, you might never revert.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov