Friday, November 04, 2011

Comfort food-- chicken n' dumplings

It's getting chilly and that makes me feel like having homey comfort food. This recipe serves 6 to 8 hungry people.

For tender dumplings, the dough should be gently mixed right before the dumplings are dropped onto the stew.

5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 carrots, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 large onion, chopped fine
1 teaspoon salt
3 garlic cloves, minced
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup dry sherry (don't use cooking sherry, it's too salty)
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
4 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups heavy cream


1. For the stew: Bring broth to simmer in Dutch oven over high heat. Add chicken and return to simmer. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until chicken is just cooked through, about 10 minutes. Transfer chicken to plate and tent loosely with aluminum foil. Transfer broth to heavy heat-resistant pitcher or bowl.

2. Return empty Dutch oven to medium-high heat and melt butter. Add carrots, onion, and salt and cook until softened, about 7 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in flour and cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute. Stir in sherry, scraping up browned bits. Stir in reserved broth, cream, thyme, bay leaves, and pepper and bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until stew thickens, about 20 minutes.

3. For the dumplings: Stir flour, baking powder, and salt in large bowl. Stir in cream until just incorporated (dough will be very thick and shaggy, don't overstir).

4. To finish: Discard bay leaves and return stew to rapid simmer. Shred reserved chicken and add to stew along with any accumulated juices, frozen peas, and 3 tablespoons parsley. Using 2 large soup spoons or small ice cream scoop, drop golf ball-sized dumplings onto stew about 1/4 inch apart (you should have 16 to 18 dumplings).

Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until dumplings have doubled in size, 15 to 18 minutes.

Garnish with remaining parsley. Serve.

[note: I would like to experiment with step 4 by putting the oven at 300 degrees, I think, and putting the simmering stew in the oven as soon as the dumplings are added. I'd like my dumplings to have a brown top!]

Make Ahead: Follow recipe through step 2, refrigerating stew and chicken in separate airtight containers up to 24 hours ahead. When ready to proceed, warm stew in Dutch oven and proceed with step 3.

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