Dough, take two: chicken and dumplings

The first time I ever had chicken and dumplings, I remember thinking the concept of “dumplings” seemed so elaborate.  I just couldn’t wrap my head around the thought of dough being cooked in liquid.

When I encountered a 30-minute Rachael Ray recipe for chicken and dumplings, I thought long and hard about whether or not this was a road I wanted to risk traveling.  If I closed my eyes for one second, I could imagine at least ninety-two things that could go wrong if I were to attempt chicken and dumplings.  Then I envisioned myself in my comfort zone, and just outside of it was a pot of chicken and dumplings calling my name, coaxing me, taunting me.  Okay, chicken and dumplings.  You win.  Count me in.

One of the first steps of the recipe was to saute some veggies in oil and butter–among them, a potato.  Since I’ve had such good luck (note:  that was said in a sarcastic tone) with cooking potatoes, I was thrilled about this (still sarcastic).  The potato held up, though, and was softening pretty nicely without turning into mush.

After I added a quart of chicken broth and the chicken breast pieces, it was time for the dumplings to be born.  I mixed together the ingredients, measured out the first tablespoon, and veryveryvery carefully dropped it into the simmering liquid.  One of those ninety-two things I’d imagined could go wrong was that the dough ball would make contact with the liquid and immediately disperse into a hundred little floating fragments of dough.  All that happened, though, was that the completely intact ball of dough bobbed around in the liquid, finally settled, and started to puff up.  Very anti-climactic, if you ask me.

Since Rachael Ray failed to tell me how to gauge the done-ness of the dumplings, I was quite nervous about serving dumplings that were still doughy inside.  I wasn’t sure if it was normal for their tops to be sticky.  After the max cooking time, they were still sticky so I sucked it up and called my fiance in for dinner.  The dumplings were cooked to perfection and, aside from burning the crap outta my tongue, my attempt at comfort food really hit the spot!

What kinds of things have you made that seemed SO much more complicated than they really were?