If you’ve had the chance to try ramekin chicken pot pies by now, you know that I struck gold when I found Taylor and Lindsay’s recipe. We’ve eaten it 4 times already. That’s a big deal around here. And today I bring you even better news: I found a recipe that uses virtually the same ingredients, and produces a vastly different, but equally wonderful result.
Chicken and Dumplings.
It’s a southern thing. Like chicken soup with biscuits on top. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Read on…
This stuff is made completely from scratch, and it takes a little prep work. The good news is you can make the stock in advance, prepare the stew in advance, and then reheat and add the dumplings at the last minute.
What I’m saying is you have no excuse for leaving this this recipe out of your weeknight dinner rotation.
This winter, I made chicken and dumplings a la Grandma and chicken and dumplings a la Deb. The winning recipe is a mixture of the two:
For the stew:
- 2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
- 2 T vegetable oil
- 2 T unsalted butter
- 1 large onion, minced
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 3 T unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup dry sherry
- 4 1/2 cups chicken broth (I followed this recipe and made my own)
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves (I used a pinch of dried!)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup frozen green peas
- salt and pepper
Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven until it is almost smoking. Brown the chicken, about five minutes per side, and set on a plate. When the chicken is cool to the touch, peel off and discard the skin. It’s okay for the chicken to be raw here, it will cook longer later. Pour the chicken fat into a little container. You’ll revisit these when you make the dumplings.
Melt the butter in the skillet. Add the onions, celery and carrots (call it mire poix, if you’re feeling French) and cook until soft, between 5 and 7 minutes. Now, because all good things begin with a roux, stir in the flour, and cook for about 2 minutes.
Whisk in the sherry, and allow it to de-glaze the pan. Stir in the broth, cream, thyme and bay leaves.
Repeat in head: All good things involve cream.
Add the chicken back to the pot. Bring it to a simmer, cover it, and let it go for 1 hour. Return and dig out the bay leaves. You can toss these, as they have given all they can. Then, remove the chicken to a plate. Grab two forks and shred all the meat you can off the thighs. Discard the bones, or save them for your own purposes later.
Let the stew hang out for a little, so that any fat rises to the top. Skim the fat off, as you have enough going on in this dish already. Add the chicken back to the stew.
—Up till now, you can make all of this in advance. When you’re getting ready for dinner, just bring the mixture back up to a simmer.—
For the dumplings:
- 1 C unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 T baking powder
- 3/4 t table salt
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 2 tablespoons reserved chicken fat (or unsalted butter)
*A word of advice. Do not fear the chicken fat. This is natural stuff, and 2 T is not as bad for you as you might be afraid of. Especially if your chicken is local, free-range, organic, etc.
Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Microwave the milk and chicken fat in a small bowl for about one minute (you want it hot, but not bubbling), and stir to combine. Stir the milk/fat mixture into the flour mixture until just combined.
Using two tablespoons, drop rounded blobs of dough on top of your simmering stew. Repeat this process until the dough is gone. Cover the stew and let these babies cook for about 5 minutes, until they’ve doubled in size.
You’re almost there. Stir in your frozen peas, and taste for salt and pepper. Adjust your seasonings, and serve by the bowlful. Enjoy.