Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Chicken & Dumplings – Stewed Chicken with Thyme Crème Fraiche "Dumplins"

I’m calling this chicken and “dumplings” for search engine purposes, but these came out so well that internally we going with chicken and “dumplins.” That’s right, if your dumplings really rock, you’re allowed to drop the “g.” It’s the highest honor one can bestow on this humble dish.

The wonderful thing about this dumpling recipe, besides its ease, is how truly versatile it is. I’m not even referring to the actual dumpling batter, which of course can be tweaked with various herb and/or dairy substitutions, but to the delivery system beneath these puffy pillows of pleasure.

These dumplings can be steamed over virtually any flavorful soup or stew-like substance. The rule of thumb is; if you can simmer it, you can cook a dumpling on it. However, as I mention in the video, the thinner the liquid, the easier and better the dumplings will steam.

If you do prefer a thicker stew, simply fortify your mixture with a standard roux before you add the picked chicken back in. We’ve made like a hundred rouxs, so I’ll assume you can cook 1/4 cup of butter together with a 1/4 cup of flour for a couple minutes without major incident. 

If this is your first batch of dumplings ever, then I'd recommend going with the soupy base you see here. Once you get the dumplin(g)s down, you can start to experiment with thicker, more interesting stews.

So, whether you go thick or thin, crème friache or buttermilk, thyme or rosemary, or any another other approved variation (FYI: all variations are pre-approved), I hope you give this classic American comfort food a try. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 4 large servings:
For the stewed chicken:
1 whole chicken (about 3.5-4 pounds)
1 onion, cubed
1 large celery rib, cubed
1 large carrot, cubed
1 bay leaf
3-4 springs of thyme
2 1/2 quarts cold water
salt, cayenne, and freshly ground black pepper to taste
*thicken mixture slightly with 2-3 tbsp chicken fat mixed with 2-3 tbsp flour
For dumplings:
1/2 cup crème fraiche
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
2 tsp fresh chopped thyme leaves
2 cups self-rising flour
* If you don’t have SR flour (which does work better here) you can use 2 cups all-purpose flour sifted with 3 teaspoons baking powder and1 teaspoon fine table salt.

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