Thursday, January 17, 2008

Chicken n' dumplings

This is cold weather cooking at its best. We had our first snow of the year today--a whole inch and a half of big, fat, wet flakes, followed by sleet and now rain. What better to do than stay inside and cook up a pot of something hot, juicy, flavorful, and so incredibly comforting?

Chicken and dumplings
(based on the recipe from America's Test Kitchen)
Serves four

2.5 lbs chicken thighs (bone in, with skin)
2 tsp vegetable oil
2 Tbs butter
2 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
1 rib of celery, diced
1/2 large onion, diced
6 Tbs flour
1/4 c dry sherry
2 1/2 c low-sodium chicken broth
1/3 c whole milk
1/2 tsp oregano
1 bay leaf
1/3 c frozen peas
1-2 Tbs fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper

1 c flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c whole milk
1.5 Tbs unsalted butter

1. Pat the chicken dry, and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tsp oil in a large Dutch oven over med-high heat until hot. Add half of the chicken and cook until golden on both sides, about 10 min. Transfer the chicken to a plate and remove the browned skin. Pour off the chicken fat and reserve. Return the pot to med-high heat and repeat with the remaining 1 tsp oil and the rest of the chicken. Pour off any chicken fat.

2. Add the butter to the pot and melt over med-high heat. Add the carrots, celery, onion, and 1/8 teaspoon salt and cook until softened, about 7 min. Stir in the flour. Then whisk in the sherry, scraping up any browned bits. Stir in the broth, milk, oregano, and bay leaf. Add the chicken back to the pot, with any collected juices. Cover and cook on low til the chicken is tender, about 1 hour. Remove the bay leaf.

3. On a cutting board, shred the chicken, discarding the bones. While you deal with the chicken, allow the sauce to settle for a few minutes and then skim off the fat using a spoon or paper towels. Return the shredded chicken to the pot.

4. For the dumplings: stir the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Heat the milk and butter til just warm, and then stir the milk-butter into the flour mixture til well mixed and smooth.

5. Bring the stew to a simmer, stir in the peas and parsley, and season with salt and pepper. Drop small golf-ball-sized dumplings over the top of the stew, about 1/4 inch apart (I made 14 dumplings). Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the dumplings have doubled in size, about 15 min. Enjoy!

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