Sunday, April 17, 2011

Recipe Week: Chicken and Dumplings

It has been awhile since we've had recipe week so in conjunction with my anniversary food related musings and general "savoring" I'm going to share a recipe a day this week starting with Chicken and Dumplings.

This falls easily into the long searched for recipe.  We mostly had chicken and noodles, rather than dumplings growing up, but I love the soft dumplings so much that I set out to find one that works for me.  The Smitten Kitchen's version is definitely my inspiration, but a bit too time consuming for my lifestyle so I've modified it as follows:

Our Chicken and Dumplings 
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, February 2005 and Smitten Kitchen 2007
CI notes that you should not use low-fat or fat-free milk in this recipe, and that you should start the dumpling dough only when you’re ready to top the stew with the dumplings.
Serves 6 to 8

2.5  pounds boneless chicken breasts (or assortment of chicken pieces as you please).
Table salt and ground black pepper
4 teaspoons canola oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
2 green onions white and green parts (optional)
1 large onion, minced
6 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup dry sherry
4 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup whole milk
2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
1 cup frozen green peas

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
1 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1. For the stew: 

Step 1- optional - This is nice to do, but can be skipped if you are in a rush. Start with Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add the chicken and cook until golden on both sides, about 7 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate. Pour off the chicken fat and reserve. 
Step 2. Add the butter to the Dutch oven and melt over medium-high heat. Add the green onion, onion, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook until softened, about 7 minutes. Stir in the flour. Whisk in the sherry, scraping up any browned bits. Stir in the broth, milk, thyme, and bay leaves. Nestle the chicken, with any accumulated juices, into the pot. Cover and simmer until the chicken is fully cooked and tender, about 1 hour. (NOTE: sometimes I just use pre-cooked/left-over chicken and simmer it for about 10 minutes in this mixture after I've shredded it). 
Step 3. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board. Discard the bay leaves. Allow the sauce to settle for a few minutes, then skim the fat from the surface using a wide spoon. Shred the chicken, then return it to the stew.

Step 4. For the dumplings: Stir the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Microwave the milk and fat in a microwave-safe bowl on high until just warm (do not over-heat), about 1 minute. Stir the warmed milk mixture into the flour mixture with a wooden spoon until incorporated and smooth.
5. Return the stew to a simmer, stir in the peas, and season with salt and pepper. Following the steps below, drop golf-ball-sized dumplings over the top of the stew, about 1/4 inch apart (you should have about 18 dumplings). Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the dumplings have doubled in size, 15 to 18 minutes. Serve.
To make the dumplings: Gather a golf-ball-sized portion of the dumpling batter onto a soup spoon, then push the dumpling onto the stew using a second spoon. Cover the stew with the dumplings, leaving about 1/4 inch between each. When fully cooked, the dumplings will have doubled in size.

It is delicious!  The broth is so rich and creamy because you take the extra steps above.  However, if you are in a rush and have some cooked chicken, chicken broth, peas and the dumpling ingredients you can make a very quick (although a bit less spectacular) version in a rush for a great quick dinner.

Such a comfort food!  This turned out to be perfectly timed as B and I are fighting the stomach bug to various degrees and this is just what I would want to have.... if I felt like eating at all.

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