Friday, March 25, 2011

Chicken and Dumplings

This is a recipe I got from Smitten Kitchen. Once again, these are “dumplings” in the Southern sense of the word, as opposed to wontons or pierogies. I halved the original recipe, so I had enough for 4 generous servings, and that’s what I’m printing here. I used white win instead of the sherry, since I had it on hand, and omitted the tarragon. I also recommend making small balls of dough for the dumplings, as they do plump up quite a bit – the original recipe recommends making them the size of golf balls before they are cooked, but I would halve that too. This dish was excellent, very homey and hearty, exactly what we needed for the last cold snap in San Antonio.

For the stew
2 ½ lbs bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
table salt and ground black pepper
2 tsp vegetable oil
2 Tbsp unsalted butter or margarine
1 medium leeks, white and light green part only, cut in half lengthwise, washed and sliced
1 medium onion, minced
3 Tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp dry sherry or white wine
2 ¼ cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 Tbsp lactose-free whole milk
½ tsp minced fresh thyme leaves
1bay leaf
½ cup frozen green peas
1 Tbsp minced fresh tarragon leaves

For the dumplings
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp table salt
½ cup lactose-free whole milk
1 ½ Tbsp reserved chicken fat (or unsalted butter)

For the stew
Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper. Heat 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 10 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and remove the browned skin. Pour off the chicken fat and reserve.

Add the butter to the Dutch oven and melt over medium-high heat. Add the leeks, onion, and a pinch of 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 leaf. Nestle the chicken, with any accumulated juices, into the pot. Cover and simmer until the chicken is fully cooked and tender, about 1 hour.

Transfer the chicken to a cutting board. Discard the bay leaf. Allow the sauce to settle for a few minutes, then skim the fat from the surface using a wide spoon. Shred the chicken, discarding the bones, then return it to the stew.

For the dumplings
Only begin preparing the dumplings once you are ready to drop them into the stew. 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 30 seconds. Stir the warmed milk mixture into the flour mixture with a wooden spoon until incorporated and smooth.

Return the stew to a simmer, stir in the peas and tarragon, and season with salt and pepper. Gather a small spoonful of the dumpling batter onto a spoon, then push the dumplings onto the stew using a second spoon. Cover the stew with the dumplings, leaving them about ¼ inch apart. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the dumplings have doubled in size, 15 to 18 minutes. Serve.

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