Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Chicken and dumplings

Chicken and dumplings is one of our favorite meals here in the Witches' household.  It gets made at least once a month and no one is ever sick of it.  Comforting, homey, savory and delicious, chicken and dumplings is comfort food in it's finest form.  One of the things I love most about it is that it's not heavy and fat laden like a lot of wintery soups and stews can be.  I also love it because it's chock full of veggies and I know that the Little Witch will eat veggies if it's in chicken and dumplings.

When frozen veggies are on sale I stock up my freezer with them.  Soups like this are a great place to use these veggies, when their fresh counterparts are out of season.  Change it up with different veggies and it's a new dish each time you make it.  I've found it to be a great vehicle for trying out new tastes with the little ones, too.  Anything enrobed in a delicious chicken broth is bound to be good.

The dumplings are soft and pillow like.  If you don't have a food processor to make the dumplings you can use a pastry blender or 2 forks to cut the butter into the flour.  If all else fails you can use a prepared baking mix (bisquik) instead of the flour, salt, baking powder and butter.  The dumplings are dropped into the simmering stew which does two things; it steams and fluffs the dumplings and  it thickens the stew.  I hope you treat yourself and your family to a pot of this delicious and hearty stew soon!

Chicken and dumplings
makes around 6 generous servings
6 boneless skinless chicken thighs (can use breasts, see notes)
6 cups chicken stock
5-6 carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds
3 ribs celery, sliced
1/2 onion diced very fine
1 t dried thyme
2 T fresh minced parsley
kosher salt to taste (around 1.5-2t) and ground pepper
choose up to 2 (1/2 c. each) optional veggies:  frozen corn, peas, green beans, broccoli, diced potatoes, whatever your family likes
1 1/4 c all purpose flour
1.5 t baking powder
1.5 t kosher salt
1 egg white
1/4 c water
1/4 c milk
1/4 c (1/2 stick) cold butter, diced

In a dutch oven or other large pot add everything except the optional veggies.  Bring to a boil then reduce to a low simmer.  Allow to simmer for 45 min.  Remove the chicken thighs to a plate to cool slightly before shredding.  If you are using chicken breasts only cook them for 25-30 minutes before removing.  

After removing the chicken taste the broth for season.  Adjust salt & pepper if needed.   Add optional veggies to the stew at this time.

Shred the chicken and discard any gristle and fat pieces.  Set aside.

Make the dumplings - in the work bowl of a food processor add your flour, baking powder and salt.  Pulse to incorporate.

Add the cold diced butter.  Pulse 5 times using 1 second bursts of power.  The mixture should resemble coarse meal or damp sand.  Pour flour mix into a bowl.

In a separate small bowl mix the egg white, milk and water.  Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and combine with a fork until all flour is dampened.  A few lumps are OK, just don't overwork the batter.  It will be like thick pancake batter.

Add the shredded chicken back to the stew and stir well.  Stew needs to be at a bare simmer, not too many bubbles breaking the surface, to cook the dumplings.  If the stew is simmering too rapidly it will break apart the dumplings.

Using a tablespoon size scooper or 2 spoons, scoop dough into balls on top of simmering stew.  Try not to let dumplings touch when being dropped into stew.  Once all the dough is added cover the stew and allow to steam cook for 10 minutes.  DO NOT OPEN THE LID until the 10 minutes is over or the dumplings will not cook properly.

Once the dumplings are cooked they'll float to the surface.  Sprinkle with minced parsley before serving.

Nutrition Facts calculated at SparkPeople recipe calculator chicken Amount Per Serving Calories 324.6 Total Fat 11.1 g Saturated Fat 5.7 g Polyunsaturated Fat 1.2 g Monounsaturated Fat 3.2 g Cholesterol 78.8 mg Sodium 1,351.0 mg Potassium 782.7 mg Total Carbohydrate 34.5 g Dietary Fiber 3.6 g Sugars 3.8 g Protein 23.8 g
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