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Times are tough with the ever-increasing cost of food. This makes the potluck dinner social event even more important. I believe you can host a dinner for six with an investment of about 10 or 15 dollars. Invite two other couples to share the meal. Ask one couple to bring a simple dessert for six and ask the other to bring an appetizer to munch on as the evening starts. Tell everyone to bring what they want to drink for the gathering. Discounting the cost of booze, everyone is on somewhat equal footing.
The main entree is chicken and dumplings with a green vegetable on the side. That may not sound elegant, but it is comfort food at its best. Purchase a roasted chicken from Costco for $4.99. Deconstruct the chicken by separating the skin, the meat, and the remaining carcass. Set the meat aside, but put the skin, bones, and some celery and carrots in a pot to make chicken stock. After you strain, the solid material from the stock you want about two cups of rich broth. Make sure you included the drippings that were in the plastic container that held the chicken.
Make a roux of butter and flour and add the stock to make two cups of fairly thin sauce. Steam some sliced carrots and celery in the microwave until they are nearly soft. Add the shredded chicken meat and the partially cooked vegetables to a deep, oven-safe skillet with the chicken broth. Season with salt, pepper, and herbs of your choice. Poultry seasoning will work, but don’t overdo it. Bring it to a simmer. Add an ounce or so of heavy cream. Drop flattened chunks of biscuit dough into the stew. Since I have celiac disease, I make the dough from a box of Red Lobster’s gluten-free biscuit mix, but Bisquick is the traditional dumpling mix. Cover the skillet for 10 or 15 minutes to let the dumplings rise. Finish it by putting it uncovered in a preheated oven at 425 degrees for another 15 minutes until the biscuits are slightly brown. Brush melted butter and a few herbs on the tops of the dumplings. Serve it with a simple green vegetable such as green beans or broccoli, and you are done.
This is just one simple example of making dinner parties a celebration of sharing rather than an ostentatious show of culinary prowess. I have discussed beef stew previously, which also is a comfort food that makes for good company.Published in