I made an old favorite the other day: chicken and dumplings. Classic comfort food and perfect for wintertime. On a practical note, it makes for great leftovers and freezes pretty well too.
I’m a big fan of the recipe I got from a Cooking Live episode, well actually it was a Gourmet recipe that they did on Cooking Live. Anyone remember Cooking Live? Sara Moulton hosted back in the day when culinary training and experience were not seen as a weaknes. About once a week they did a show where someone would cook the same meal in their own kitchen and check in periodically with her.
1 (3-pound) chicken, cut into parts
1 cup all-purpose flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 leeks (white and pale green parts only,) sliced thin crosswise and washed thoroughly
(about 1 1/2 cups)
4 shallots, sliced thin (about 3/4 cup)
4 carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, and sliced
2 celery ribs with leaves, sliced
1 small bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
3 cups low-salt chicken broth
1/2 cup apple cider or juiceFor dumplings:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons fresh dill, minced
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons half-and-half
Dredge chicken parts in seasoned flour, shaking off excess, and put on a rack. In a large heavy kettle melt butter with oil over moderately high heat until foam subsides and brown chicken in batches (do not crowd,) transferring it to a plate as done, about 5 minutes on each side. Stir in leeks and shallots and cook 3 minutes, scraping the bottom and stirring occasionally. Stir in carrots, celery, bay leaf, and thyme and cook 3 minutes. Stir in broth, cider, and chicken and bring liquid to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered partially, until chicken is cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes. For the dumplings, in a bowl sift together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt and stir in dill. With a fork stir in half-and-half until dough is just blended. With a large soup spoon scoop out 12 dumplings and arrange over chicken mixture. Simmer chicken and dumplings, covered, 12 minutes. (Dumplings are done when a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.) Discard bay leaf.
I’ve substituted regular onions and frankly, I prefer them to the leeks in this recipe. The cider adds a lot to the sauce, but it also makes for a sweeter dish. Plus there are carrots. Add in the leeks and it’s a little too sweet for me.
Browning the chicken is the key for this. You don’t want to skimp on the amount of time that takes. Full five minutes on each side of the chicken pieces.
Even with the reduced amount of chicken broth, this make a lot of liquid. I reduced it even further so that I had 1 1/2 cups of broth and 1/2 cup of apple cider; I had some white wine in the fridge and used about a 1/2 cup of that. Gave the whole thing a little something. Anyhow, I ended up with just 3 cups.
I love the dumplings, but they take longer then the prescribed amount of time so allow for that. I’ve substituted whole or low fat milk and had little change. I also used dried dill.
You end up with a dish that has some complexity and texture to it. Before this my dumplings had always looked and tasted a lot like library paste. These are flavorful. I highly recommend trying this recipe.