Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Chicken & Dumplings

The unpredictable weather, that is refusing to say good bye to summer, has taken a plunge today. For me it's the perfect excuse to stand over the stove, watching the windows and patio doors in the kitchen steaming up as I cook a delicious, old fashioned comfort meal.

Dumplings can mean different things to different parts of the country. For me, the "dumplings" are little balls of dough, steamed on the top of a thick soup. For others dumplings refer to thick noodles cooked in the broth. For me those are just noodles. If you prefer the noodle version, simply add them instead of my version of dumplings.

Chicken & Dumplings
modified from Cook's Illustrated Oct. 2009

6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
1 lb. chicken wings
salt & pepper
2 tsp. vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped fine
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium celery rib, chopped fine
1/4 cup dry sherry
6 cups chicken broth
1 tsp. fresh thyme
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
3/4 cup cold buttermilk
4 tbsp. reserved fat rendered from chicken (or use 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted & cooled)
1 large egg white

For the Stew:

Pat chicken dry and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add chicken thighs, skin side down. Cook until skin is crisp and well browned, 5-7 minutes. Turn chicken and brown on second side, 5-7 minutes. Set thighs aside. Reserve 4 tbsp. fat from pot, set aside for dumplings. Discard all but 1 tsp. of remaining fat and cook wings, about 3-4 minutes per side. Remove wings and set aside.

(I put the chicken and 10 cups water into a large stock pot and boil it until the chicken is falling off the bones. Then remove the chicken and shred it. I reserve the broth to use in the stew instead of buying chicken broth.)

Discard all but 1 tsp. of fat. Add onions, carrots, and celery to the now empty pot. Stir occasionally until veggies are caramelized, about 8 minutes.

Add sherry to deglaze the pan, making sure to scrape up all browned bits.

Stir in broth and thyme. Add shredded chicken.

Remove from heat. Allow broth to settle for 5 minutes. Skim fat from the surface using a large spoon or ladle.

For the Dumplings
Whisk together flour, baking soda, sugar, and salt in large bowl. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Add in reserved fat (or melted butter), buttermilk, and egg white, stirring from the center outward until just combined and dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Return the stew to a simmer. Add in parsley and salt and pepper to taste.

With a greased tablespoon, scoop level amounts of dough and drop over top of the stew. Space the dough about 1/4 inch apart. This should make approximate 24 dumplings.

The directions call for wrapping the lid of the Dutch oven with a clean kitchen towel (being careful not to let it tough the heat source) and cover the pot. I just put the lid on the pot and it turned out fine.

Simmer until dumplings have doubled in size and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, approximately 15 minutes.

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