Smitten Kitchen is a blog by a New York woman. She makes these beautiful, perfectly precise dishes, and lots of desserts. I’m always afraid to try any of her recipes though, because I am not precise. I’m haphazard in my cooking. But then she posted this recipe for chicken and dumplings, something I’ve never made before, and I decided to give it a try. Reason one, dumplings don’t have to be precise. Reason two, it’s still disgustingly cold and gross outside, perfect time for a hearty meal. I made some minor adjustments to the recipe but did go out of my way to buy organic free range chicken from Whole Foods. They were not scary large, which is good.
2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
Salt and ground black pepper
4 teaspoons oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 medium leeks , white and light green parts only, cut in half lengthwise and then into 1-inch pieces
1 large onion – diced
2 carrots – diced
6 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup red wine
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1 cup frozen green peas
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
1 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons reserved chicken fat (or unsalted butter)
Start the stew by patting the chicken thighs dry and seasoning with salt and pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a big pot. Place four chicken thighs, skin side down, into the pot and brown each side. Should take about 10 minutes total. Take the chicken out and do the same to the next batch until all the chicken has been cooked. When I did this, oil splattered all over. Use a splatter screen. When done, pour out fat into a cup and save for later.
Next, add the butter to the pan and melt. Toss in the leeks, onion and carrots with some salt. Cook until soft, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in the flour. Add the red wine and scrap up any bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the milk, broth, thyme and bay leaves. Take the skin off the chicken thighs and place chicken into the stew. Add the raw chicken breast at this time too. Cover and simmer for 1 hour, or until chicken is cooked through.
Once chicken is done, take out and shred the chicken on a cutting board. Put shredded chicken back into the stew after removing any fat that has come to the top.
For the dumplings, mix flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix milk and fat and microwave for just 1 minute. Mix milk into the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until mixed.
Return stew to a simmer and add peas. Now you are read to add the dumplings. With two soup spoons, use one to scoop up a small quantity of dough and use the other to push it of into the stew. Repeat, leaving space in between each dumpling, until you’ve made about 18 dumplings or the stew is full. I had a little extra dough left over I tossed. Simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes. I’d never made dumplings before so was unsure if it was done. I just pulled one out and cut it in half to make sure the inside was cooked. It was.
Notes: After the dumplings had cooked, they expanded and basically covered the whole top of the stew, but they came apart just fine. We both really enjoyed this meal and Chris ate an obscene amount of food. I will make this again.
Servings: 7-8 big heart servings