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Chicken and Dumplings

March 5, 2011

One of my favorite cold-weather comfort foods is chicken and dumplings. It fills the whole house with delicious smells, and it’s wonderfully warming in the belly. Many recipes call for flour to thicken the stew, but often that dulls the flavor of the chicken and makes the stew seems more like pot pie filling. This version uses whole chicken wings, simmered along with the broth, to provide collagen as a natural thickener. The broth is still thinner than one made with flour or cornstarch, but I find the lighter broth with bright flavors a perfect complement to the light texture of the dumplings.

Recipe is from the September/October 2009 issue of Cook’s Illustrated.

Chicken and dumplings

Serves 6

The stew can be made up to 2 days ahead of time. Complete the recipe up through step 3; bring the stew back to a simmer before proceeding.

Ingredients

Stew

  • 6  bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 2 1/2 pounds), trimmed of excess fat
  • Table salt and ground black pepper
  • 2  teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 2  small onions, chopped fine (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2  medium carrots, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
  • 1  medium celery rib, chopped fine (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4  cup dry sherry
  • 6  cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1  teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1  pound chicken wings
  • 1/4  cup chopped fresh parsley leaves

Dumplings

  • 2  cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2  teaspoon baking soda
  • 1  teaspoon sugar
  • 1  teaspoon table salt
  • 3/4  cup cold buttermilk
  • 4  tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled about 5 minutes
  • 1  large egg white

Directions

  1. Pat chicken thighs dry with paper towels and season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add chicken thighs, skin-side down, and cook until skin is crisp and well browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Using tongs, turn chicken pieces and brown on second side, 5 to 7 minutes longer; transfer to large plate. Discard all but 1 teaspoon fat from pot.
  2. Add onions, carrots, and celery to now-empty pot; cook, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, 7 to 9 minutes. Stir in sherry, scraping up any browned bits. Stir in broth and thyme. Return chicken thighs, with any accumulated juices, to pot and add chicken wings. Bring to simmer, cover, and cook until thigh meat offers no resistance when poked with tip of paring knife but still clings to bones, 45 to 55 minutes.
  3. Remove pot from heat and transfer chicken to cutting board. Allow broth to settle 5 minutes, then skim fat from surface using wide spoon or ladle. When cool enough to handle, remove and discard skin from chicken. Using fingers or fork, pull meat from chicken thighs (and wings, if desired) and cut into 1-inch pieces. Return meat to pot.
  4. Whisk flour, baking soda, sugar, and salt in large bowl. Combine buttermilk and melted butter in medium bowl, stirring until butter forms small clumps; whisk in egg white. Add buttermilk to dry ingredients and stir with rubber spatula until just incorporated and batter pulls away from sides of bowl.
  5. Return stew to simmer; stir in parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Using greased tablespoon measure (or #60 portion scoop), scoop level amount of batter and drop over top of stew, spacing about 1/4 inch apart (you should have about 24 dumplings). Wrap lid of Dutch oven with clean kitchen towel (keeping towel away from heat source) and cover pot. Simmer gently until dumplings have doubled in size and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 13 to 16 minutes. Serve immediately.

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