A winter storm and a man's idea of comfort food were the reasons for last night's feast of chicken stew with dumplings. Seeing his satisfaction and hearing the groans kinda' got me thinking about the several different kinds of dumplings we've created in JBug's Kitchen that have made dishes sing and Big Guy whistle.
Last night's chicken stew was a pretty basic combination of skinless, boneless chicken thighs, onions, carrots, celery, mushrooms, and parsnip in a rich sherry flavored gravy and quite honestly it beat the heck out of the old fashioned kind that made use of an onery rooster and limited spices like the ones I remember from childhood. No comparison!
Anyway, I had the foresight to ask Big Guy what kind of dumplings he wanted and his response of "light and fluffy" brought to mind a recipe we've made previously. The trick to light, fluffy dumplings is to use cake flour which is milled from soft wheat with less gluten than all purpose and results in a lighter result...at least that's the theory as long as you don't overmix the dough. Too heavy a hand and you'll end up with hockey pucks no matter what kind of flour you use.
Now, had my resident carnivore asked for sopper uppers with a smooth and light texture, I'd have made dumplings like the basil/pototo version we've had before on a bowl of creamy tomato soup.
Absolutely the lightest softest yummiest potato dumpling I've ever made before, the addition of fresh chopped thyme and parsley instead of basil would have put these simple boiled potato, egg yolk and flour miracles into a league of their own and elevated our stew into the gourmet category, that's assuming chicken and dumplings can be called gourmet.
Of course then again, had I not asked Big Guy his preference I could have just opened a package of prepared gnocchi, boiled 'em up, slathered 'em in butter and parsley and called them dumplings. I mean afterall, I've done it before haven't I.
I didn't but I could have and you could too. Just remember to think about adding dumplings the next time you're whipping up a stew of any kind. Afterall, the body burns more calories in the winter just trying to keep warm so why not give your body a little more fuel and stew a bit more somethin' somethin'.
Other stews you can ramp up with dumplings...
JBug’s Chicken Stew with Dumplings from JBug’s Kitchen Antics inspired by and adapted from simplyrecipes.com
1 pound skinless boneless chicken thighs
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Salt and coarse ground black pepper
2 medium onions, diced
1-1/2 cups diced carrots (1/2 inch dice)
3 stalks celery, cut in half inch pieces
1 large parsnip, peeled, core removed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
6 ounces mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/3 cup medium dry sherry
3 cups low sodium chicken stock
1 can Campbell’s Golden Mushroom Soup
2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons melted butter
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Melt butter and olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat. Cut chicken thighs in half, season well with salt and pepper and dust lightly with flour, shaking off excess. Brown in Dutch oven until golden, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove browned chicken from pot to a plate and set aside. Decrease heat to medium and add onion, celery and mushrooms. Cook stirring occasionally for 5 minutes until vegetables start to soften. Add garlic, rosemary, thyme and poultry seasoning and flour remaining from dusting chicken prior to browning. Toss to coat vegetables with mixture and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add sherry and cook for 1 minute stirring constantly. Return chicken to pot. Stir in chicken stock and golden mushroom soup. Heat to boiling stirring occasionally, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add parsnip and carrots and bring mixture to a high simmer. Cook for 5 minutes, lower heat slightly then add dumplings and continue as per instructions below.
In a small bowl whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Add parsley and toss together. Using a fork, make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, add butter and milk. Incorporate dry ingredients into the wet and mix carefully just until combined (barely). Using a small scoop, transfer dumplings to slowly simmering stew allowing space in between dumplings because they’ll expand. Cover pot and cook for 15 minutes. DO NOT PEEK. Serve stew in bowls with dumplings on top. Garnish with parsley. Serves 4.