Monday, May 7, 2012

Buffalo Blue Cheese Chicken Dumplings with Avocado Cilantro Yogurt Dip

One of my favorite appetizers in the whole world is dumplings. All kinds of dumplings, stuffed with kimchi or pork and leeks, or shrimp at dim sum. I am into all of them. Only recently did I jump into making them myself with the help of Andrea Nguyen's fantastic cookbook "Asian Dumplings"and her fantastic blog Asiandumplingtips. The first time I tried them was a Saturday night after we had been out for the entire day. I got home around 8 PM and THEN decided to start, from scratch. It was a bad idea. Fast forward to me and my fiance bickering over how this was not the time and he was too tired and just wanted to sit down. I stood over the bowl grumbling to myself and attempting to roll out dough and stuff enough dumplings to actually make a meal. They were pretty ugly but the taste was incomparable to the frozen variety and I was hooked. Next time I just gave myself a lot more time.
Now that I am laid off and have a lot of time on my hands I decided to attempt an idea that had been swirling around in my head for a few months. I am pretty excited to say they came out fantastically. I used store bought wonton wrappers because I didn't want to go through the entire process of making and rolling out dough if the recipe wasn't going to work out. Because I am a food nut I bought organic chicken thighs that were boneless and skinless and used my grandmother's old fashion meat grinder to grind them up myself. You can certainly by ground chicken if you want but I think the dark meat holds up better to the recipe and doesn't come out dry. If you do use ground chicken breasts I would add a tiny bit of oil to the recipe to help keep them moist inside. I made 2 batches to test my theory they would be better with the blue cheese inside than as a dip on the outside and they were unanimously voted the winner. To offset the spiciness of the chicken and the earthiness of the blue cheese I wanted a dip on the side that would be both cooling and tangy. The Avocado Cilantro dip was born and also a surprising winner in our house. It does come out a bit thick due to the Greek yogurt but you can thin it out with a bit of water. I tried it both ways and it came out great.

This recipe is uniquely my own so if you do repost it I would appreciate you giving me credit. Thanks!

Buffalo Blue Cheese Dumplings by Simply Tasteful Eats
Makes 48 dumplings

1 Package Wonton Wrappers (I got them in the vegetarian section of Whole Foods)
1 lb. Organic Chicken Thighs, cleaned (You can ask the butcher to grind them for you or just buy ground chicken but I do think the recipe will come out better if you use dark meat)
1/2 C Crumbled Blue Cheese
5 Scallions, Green Parts Only, Chopped
5 Cloves Garlic, Minced
2 Tbsp Melted Organic Butter
Salt and Pepper (I leave the amount to personal preference)
2 Tbsp Cayenne Pepper (use less if you want it mild, it has quite a kick)
4 Tbsp Franks Hot Sauce
1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce

Avocado Cilantro Yogurt Dip
6 oz 0% Fat Plain Greek Yogurt
1 Ripe Haas Avocado, pitted and diced
1/2 tsp Fresh Lemon Juice
Splash Worcestershire Sauce
1 Clove Garlic, Roughly Chopped
3 Tbsp Cilantro, Chopped
1 Tbsp Local Honey

To Make the Sauce:
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Refrigerate until use. Can be made the night before. 

Dumpling Assembly:
1. I used my grandmother's old meat grinder to grind up the thighs by hand. It was rather labor intensive but I felt it was worth it. For those of you that are smarter than me any reputable butcher will do it for you and it will not be quite as messy! Combine ground chicken through Worcestershire sauce in a medium bowl and mix thoroughly. 
2. Place one wonton on a cutting board or other flat surface. Have a small finger bowl of water for sealing edges. Keep the rest of the wontons covered with a cloth or paper towel. Spoon 1 tsp of filling into the center of wrapper. (Do not over fill. It can be tempting as these are labor intensive but they will fall apart when cooking) Wet 2 edges of the wonton wrapper and fold over making sure to press out any air. They will hold together much better and look more attractive if you get the air out. Place on a cookie sheet covered with parchment. Make sure to keep assembled dumplings covered as well so they do not dry out.  Repeat with remaining wrappers. 

These freeze quite well after assembly. Just make sure to freeze them on a cookie sheet in a single layer and then you can put them all together in a freezer safe bag after they are frozen. 

I made these 2 ways. For healthy preferences we eat our dumplings steamed 99% of the time and these were not exception. However they were significantly less attractive when steamed so the next day I tried them fried as well. 

To Steam: Place dumplings on a steamer sprayed with cooking spray or covered with parchment inside a dutch over an inch of water. Steam for 5 minutes. They will cook quickly. Room and serve immediately with dipping sauce. 

To Fry: Fill a large dutch oven with an inch of canola oil and heat to 350 degrees. When oil is hot fry in  small batches until golden brown. It happens quickly and with the small amount of filling they are cooked through rapidly. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately with dipping sauce. 

I hope you like them. This has become a new party favorite in our house! 

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