Chicken and Dumplings

Another recipe from "The Best Recipe" cookbook.  This is a bit of work to make, but it's really good.

  1 large roasting chicken (6 to 7lbs), cut into 2 legs, 2 thighs, and 2 breast pieces, each with skin removed; back, neck, and wings hacked with cleaver into 1- to 2-inch pieces to make stock.
  1 large onion, cut into large pieces (don't bother peeling)
  2 bay leaves
  salt
  3 celery stalks, trimmed and cut into 1 x 1/2 inch pieces
  4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1 x 1/2 inch pieces
  6 boiling onions, peeled and halved
 

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, or chicken fat from the cooked chicken

  6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  2 tablespoons dry sherry or vermouth
  1/4 cup heavy cream
  3/4 cup frozen peas, thawed
  1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
  ground black or white pepper
   
  For the Dumplings
  2 cups all-purpose flour
  1 tablespoon baking powder
  3/4 teaspoon salt
  3 tablespoons butter
  1 cup milk

For the chicken:  Heat deep 11- or 12-inch skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add hacked up chicken pieces (back, neck, and wings) and onion chunks; saute until onion softens and chicken loses its raw color, about 5 minutes.  Reduce heat to low; cover and continue to cook until chicken pieces give up most of their liquid, about 20 minutes.  Increase heat to medium-high, add 6 cups hot water, skinned chicken parts (legs, thighs, and breasts), bay leaves, and 3/4 tsp salt, then bring to simmer.  Reduce heat; continue to simmer, partially covered, until broth is flavorful and chicken parts are just cooked through, about 20 minutes longer.  Remove chicken parts and set aside.  When cook enough to handle, remove meat from bones in 2- to 3-inch chunks.  Strain broth, discarding chicken pieces.  Skim and reserve frat from broth and set aside 4 cups of broth, reserving the rest for some other use. 

Meanwhile, bring 1/2 inch water to simmer in cleaned skillet fitted with steamer basket.  Add celery, carrots, and boilingonions; cover and steam until just tender, about 10 minutes.  Remove and set aside.

For the Dumplings:  Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl.  Heat butter and milk to simmer and add to dry ingredients.  Mix with a fork or knead by hand two to three times until mixture just comes together.  Pat dough out into 1/2-inch thickeness and use a 2-inch biscuit cutter or round drinking glass to cut dough rounds. 

Heat butter or reserved chicken fat in cleaned skillet over medium-high heat.  Whisk in flour and thyme; cook, whisking constantly, until flour turns golden, 1 to 2 minutes.  Whisking constantly, gradually add sherry or vermouth, then reserved 4 cups chicken stock; simmer until gravy thickens slightly, 2 to 3 minutes.  Stir in cream and chicken and steamed vegetables; return to simmer.

Lay dumplings on surface of chicken mixture; cover and simmer until dumplings are cooked through, about 15 minutes.  Gently stir in peas and parsley.  Adjust seasonings, including generous amounts of salt and pepper.  Serve immediately.

NOTES:  They have an "herbed dumpling" variation where you simply add 1/4 cup minced herb leaves to the dumpling mixture along with the flour.  I always do this, using tarragon which is one of my favorite herbs, particularly with chicken, it really makes the dumplings delicious. 

Notice that they steam the vegetables separately and add them.  I think this is a French technique.  It really makes the vegetables taste much more fresh and intense.