Not only does this weekend have the regular Feederwatching it is also the Great Backyard Bird Count so we are glued to the binoculars once again – although Saturday morning was so gloriously cold, bright and snowy that we took time out for some snowshoeing and to document a local trail … you can see some pictures at

But we are nothing, if not industrious and so Breadzilla, the sourdough starter has been hard at work helping us make muffins, bread and dumplings … and simply nothing on this planet on a cold, snowy winter’s night is better than a sourdough dumpling, one of North America’s great contributions to world cuisine (there aren’t many so you have to take them where you find them). On this particular occasion they were layered over our evolving variation on the Italian Chicken cacciatoro … currently known hereabouts as Poulet chasseur, façon Chef Pantouflard which, basically is this :

  • Fry two large onions in duck or goose fat
  • Fry a dozen or so boned and skinned chicken pieces until sealed and browned … we also think that a small amount of prosciutto would add additional flavour but that is for the next iteration the dish. Some variations coat the chicken with flour before cooking – this will help thicken the sauce, but is not recommended if the dumplings are to be included, and really, they should be.
  • Add crushed garlic, chopped celery – maybe some carrot and peppers would not be too un-traditional
  • Slosh in copious quantities of brandy and white wine
  • Plenty of chopped tomatoes or a large can of the same – tomatoes are the essential part of this dish
  • A generous handful of herbs de Provence plus pepper

Now cover the casserole and cook on top of the stove for about 45 minutes, not too vigorously but enough so that the liquid starts to reduce

Towards the end of this period, cook plenty of mushrooms in butter/olive oil and add them to the meat and sauce

Place the sourdough dumpling mixture on top of the meat and sauce – place in the oven at 300degF and cook for about 30 minutes until the dumplings are light and fluffy.

… and then enjoy. A light merlot or a pinot noire go well with it

Next time we will try adding the prosciutto and will report on the outcome