Recipe of the Week
Chicken and dumpling stew
1 cooked, skinned, and boned 5-6 lb. chicken (cut meat into 1/2-inch pieces)
8 cups fresh chicken broth
1 bay leaf (dried or fresh)
2 ribs celery, diced medium
1/2 tsp. dried sage leaves
1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves
3 Tbsp. margarine or butter
1 large or 2 medium yellow onions, diced
1 lb. fresh carrots, peeled and cut into medium-sized chunks
1/4 cup cold chicken broth
4 Tbsp. all purpose flour
kosher salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 recipe dumpling dough
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. double acting baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 medium eggs, slightly beaten
1/8 cup buttermilk or low fat plain yogurt
Skin and bone chicken, then dice meat. Hold diced chicken in refrigerator until you are ready to use.
Put 8 cups fresh broth in Dutch oven—or other heavy-bottomed pot large enough to comfortably hold all of ingredients—along with bay leaf, celery, sage, and thyme. Place pot on medium flame, bring to boil and simmer until broth is reduced to about 6 cups. This will take about 20 minutes.
While broth is reducing, melt margarine in cast iron skillet, or other heavy-bottomed skillet. Sauté onions until medium brown. Stir onions frequently to prevent burning. If oil in pan evaporates before onions are done, add a Tbsp. of simmering broth to pan.
Deglaze skillet by adding 1 cup of simmering broth to browned onions. Simmer onions until pan is completely deglazed and broth has turned a light brown color. What we have done here is create a flavor enhancer by subjecting the onions to a controlled high heat. Food scientists call this a Maillard reaction or browning reaction. The process creates a rich flavor and color similar to the crust of fresh baked bread, coffee beans, and the roasted malt used in dark beers and ales.
Add flavored onion mixture and fresh carrots to broth.
When broth returns to simmer, combine cold chicken broth with flour and mix until there are no lumps. Slowly stir paste into simmering broth. Continue stirring until mixture shows signs of thickening, which will only be slight. Continue simmering until carrots are tender. This is a good time to make your dumplings if you didn’t before you started the stew. (Instructions below.)
Add dumplings to simmering broth mixture. Simmer dumplings until they are raised, and cooked through.
Gently stir in chicken meat, thawed peas, salt, and pepper. Simmer stew until chicken and peas are heated through. Serve immediately.
Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and stir until well-blended.
Cut in unsalted butter with pastry blender until flour resembles coarse cornmeal.
Combine slightly beaten eggs with buttermilk or yogurt. Using a wooden spoon, quickly stir egg mixture into flour, using as few strokes as possible.
Lightly flour work surface, and turn dough onto it. Sprinkle a little flour on dough to prevent it from sticking to your fingers.
Gently flatten dough with heel of your hand, sprinkling a little more flour if it sticks to hands or the work surface. Fold dough in half, and gently press it flat again. Repeat this gentle flattening and folding process until the dough is just smooth. Do not try to knead the dough as you would bread dough. Overworked dumpling dough becomes tough and will not rise properly.
Roll dough on well-floured board to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into strips that are 1-inch wide and 2-inches long. Set dumplings aside until needed.