Comfort food on an autumn day: chicken and dumplings

We had our first snow here in Chicago the other night… just a tiny dusting that was gone the next morning, but it killed most of my little lettuce starts (*sigh*). Still, the clear crisp air is so deliciously sharp when you breathe it in deeply, and the sky is such a perfect and intense blue, I can’t be too unhappy about it. We’ve all dug out our scarves and gloves, but I’m saving the heavy wool socks for ice and snow.

I have two sons and a husband who spend their days at DePaul University (students and a professor, respectively), and they had a very chilly commute today, which happened to be the first day of finals. I wanted to have something warm and nourishing and comforting when they got home tonight; I had a couple of quarts of chicken stock from simmering carcasses over the last few weeks, so I pulled a package of chicken thighs out of the freezer this morning, thinking perhaps I’d do soup. It wound up more like stew, and it was exactly what we needed: a thick, velvety broth with plenty of meat and veg, and billowy soft, rich dumplings bobbing hither and thither. And I did it gluten-free!

Here’s how, so you can too…

Chicken Stew with Dumplings
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman
(with gluten-free adjustments)
About 8 hearty servings

Stew:
~2 quarts homemade chicken stock (or 6-8 cups canned)
6 chicken thighs (skin on)
Bay leaf
4-6 branches fresh thyme (or 1 tsp. dried)
3-4 T. schmaltz (or cooking oil)
2 carrots, diced small
2 ribs celery, diced small
1 whole yellow onion, diced small
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. turmeric (optional, but gives a nice color)
1/2 c. flour (I substituted Authentic Foods Multi-Blend)
1/2 c. dry white wine
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 c. heavy whipping cream

Dumplings:
1 1/2 c. flour (or 1 1/4 c. gluten-free flour)
1/2 c. corn meal
1 T baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 c. milk
3/4 c. heavy whipping cream

Combine the stock, thighs, bay leaf and thyme in a large soup pot and bring to a simmer for about 40 minutes, occasionally skimming scum off the surface.

In a pan, melt the schmaltz. Saute the carrots, onion, celery and garlic on medium-high heat until softened, about 3-4 minutes. Add turmeric and flour, continue to cook and stir until fragrant, another minute or so. Turn heat to low and stir in white wine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Turn off heat.

Pull out the chicken thighs and let rest on a cutting board until cool enough to handle. Remove skins, strip meat from bones and chop into small bits. Return meat to the soup pot and add in vegetable mixture, let simmer on low heat.(Discard skin and bones, unless like me, you are curious to see what happens if you fry the skin in the now-empty saute pan… in which case, enjoy your chicken-skin bacon!).

If your stew looks like it has a deep slick of fat across the top, use your gravy separator to remove it (or just ladle off the worst of it), saving the fat for biscuits or a stir-fry later. Add the 1/2 cup of cream and keep covered on low heat while you prepare the dumpling dough.

Sift together the flour, corn meal, and baking powder (I discard the largest pieces of corn meal; toss it out for the birds!). Whisk in the salt. Pour in the milk and cream, and stir to combine (you don’t want to overmix it). Drop in tablespoonfuls across the surface of your stew; don’t worry if they dive down for a moment, as soon as they get hot, they’ll bob back to the surface. Once all your dumplings have been dropped in, cover the pot again (leaving a bit of the lid lifted for steam to escape; you don’t want to waterlog your little puffs of dough in there). Let simmer for 15 minutes, then remove the lid, turn off the heat, and let rest for 10 more minutes.

What kind of comfort food are you turning to on these cool, bright fall days?

1 Comment

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One response to “Comfort food on an autumn day: chicken and dumplings

  1. Julia

    Yesterday I made roasted garlic mashed potatoes, tangerine cranberry sauce, cornbread, and lemon kale. (I needed to test-run the first three for Thanksgiving.) I had a glass of Riesling with it and it all hit the spot wonderfully.

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