Chicken Stew with Chive Dumplings

3 Oct

There are times when you stumble across something and it makes you so happy and you feel like it is just meant to be. And then for reasons of the universe (in this case entirely weather related) you’re separate for what seems like an eternity. And then when you finally do reunite it is that much sweeter. I just described my relationship with chicken and dumplings. A late winter discovery. My complete inability to pull out  my dutch oven when it’s 25 degrees out. The result = our separation. But, now we’re…..reunited and it feels so good, reunited cause we understood, there’s one perfect fit…..Peaches & Herb…..anybody? anybody? Bueller? ……Awkward.

So ya, comfort food. I had some dental work done recently and chewing really isn’t my strong suit right now (neither is not complaining about said dental work, but what can ya do?). It was also 6 degrees on Sunday morning. yes, I said 6 degrees. Ridiculous! Not only is this warm, comforting and requires very little chewing, but it also makes your house smell heavenly.

Chicken and Chive Dumplings (from Smitten Kitchen)

Serves 6 to 8 people

Ingredients:

Stew:

5 lbs bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (for me, this meant 16 thighs), seasoned generously with salt and pepper

4 tbsp olive oil

4 tbsp butter (yup, butter, real butter, i don’t cook with it often so savour this moment folks)

2 leeks, sliced** (see the notes at the bottom about slicing and rinsing leeks for this recipe)

1 large onion, diced

6 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 cup dry sherry (you can substitute brandy if you don’t have sherry)

4 1/2 cups chicken broth

1/4 cup whole milk (it’s important you don’t use skim or low-fat milk here )

1 tsp fresh thyme

2 bay leaves

1 cup frozen green peas

3 tbsp fresh tarragon leaves, chopped

Dumplings:

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup fresh chives, finely chopped

1 cup whole milk

3 tbsp reserved chicken fat (bear with me, you will get this during the cooking process for the stew – so don’t go asking your local food store for reserved chicken fat like a crazy person)

For the stew: Heat a dutch oven on the stove to medium-high heat. Pour in 2 tbsp of olive oil and place half of the chicken thighs in the pot, skin side down. Cook until skin has browned (about 5 to 7 minutes), then flip and brown the other side. Remove to a platter and repeat with the rest fo the chicken. Once you have removed the chicken from the pot remove all the skin and discard.

Drain the chicken fat into a heat-proof bowl (I say heat proof b/c there may have been a plastic tupperware and scalding chicken fat situation at one point – melted plastic does not a tasty dinner make). Return the dutch oven to the stove, still at medium-high heat and put the butter in the pot. Once the butter is melted add the onions and leeks. Saute until soft (about 5 minutes). Stir in the flour. Then whisk in the sherry, being sure to scrape up any brown bits at the bottom of the pot. Add the milk and chicken broth and whisk so there are no lumps. Add the bay leaf and thyme and all the chicken (including any juices that have accumulated on the platter). Make sure all the chicken is nicely nestled in the pot, cover and let simmer for 1 hour.

During this time take a nap or something. Just don’t make the dumpling batter until right before you are about to use it. It doesn’t do it any good to sit around for an hour.

After the hour, remove the chicken to a platter (if you’re using the same one clean it – salmonella does not make you friends). Remove all the meat from the bone and return the meat to the pot, discard the bone. Add the peas and tarragon to the pot.

For the dumplings: Now you can make the dumpling batter. In a bowl combine the flour, baking soda, salt and chives. Add the milk to your reserved chicken fat and microwave until it is warm (30 to 45 seconds). Add the milk and chicken fat to the dry ingredients and stir with a spoon until entirely incorporated.

Return the stew to a simmer. Using a spoon, place golf ball size portions of the dumpling batter onto the top of the stew. Leave about a 1/4 of an inch between each dumpling. Place the lid on the dutch over and allow to simmer until the dumplings have doubled in size, about 15 minutes.

This isn’t exactly a weeknight wonder. It’s a tad time-consuming and it’s worth every single second!

Thanks to some good antibiotics and the miracle I like to call Advil, I think I am headed for more solid food, and thankfully, a wedding day that doesn’t involve a chipmunk cheek! Oh happy day!!!!!

***How to slice a leek. Cut off the green end and discard. Slice the leek lengthwise up the middle. Then slice the leek into crescent-shaped circles across the bottom. Now that you’re got the layers separated into small slices you need to rinse the leek. Leeks tend to have sand between their layers. It’s important before you use them to rinse them. Separate the layers and soak them in a bowl of water. This allows all the sand to fall to the bottom. Then drain the water and dry them in a tea towel.

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One Response to “Chicken Stew with Chive Dumplings”

  1. Peg powers October 3, 2011 at 11:58 pm #

    Oh My Gosh….you make me laugh so much…Here’s to chicken and dumplings and the 70’s…hugs Peg

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