Friday, 20 April 2012

Chicken with Herb Dumplings

Well no doubt I will soon be using more spinach from the garden (I hope it is starting to show up at farmer's markets too) but right now it is still a bit chilly and good hot filling winter food is still in order. Alas, the carrots are gone so I had to use parsnips. Nothing wrong with that, parsnips are excellent at this time of year although I would have liked that touch of orange to give the stew some colour. Still, if you are lucky you may still find some Ontario carrots. On the other hand I am getting some bits of herbs out of the garden. You can put whatever herbs you like into the dumplings, really, in whatever quantity you like but they should end up nicely flecked with green. 

This is a classic dish, with very good reason. I think I will have to make it again soon. I kept the seasoning in the stew pretty plain because of all the herbs in the dumplings; if you wish to omit the herbs from the dumplings you should probably season the stew a bit more enthusiastically.

6 servings
1 hour 15 minutes - 45 minutes prep time

Make the Stew:
1 large leek
500 grams (1 pound) button mushrooms
1 cup celeriac, peeled and diced
1 cup rutabaga, peeled and diced
1 cup parsnips OR carrots, peeled and diced
1.5 kilos (3 pounds) skinless, boneless chicken pieces
4 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
4 to 5 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons soft unbleached flour
1 teaspoon rubbed savory OR poultry seasoning

salt & pepper to taste

Wash and trim the leek. Cut it into slices and rinse it again, and drain it well. Clean the mushrooms and cut them in halves or quarters if necessary.

Peel and dice the celeriac, rutabaga, and parsnips or carrots. Make sure the chicken is cut into bite-sized pieces.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet and cook the leeks and mushrooms until softened and slightly browned. Put them in a large pot with the chicken stock. Put another tablespoon of oil in the skillet and cook the celeriac, rutabaga and parsnips or carrots until lightly browned. Add them to the chicken stock. Add the final tablespoon of oil to the skillet and brown the chicken pieces thoroughly. Sprinkle the flour and seasonings over them, and cook until the flour is all absorbed. Add the chicken to the pot with the stock, then use a little of the stock to deglaze the pan.

Simmer the stew for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, make the dumplings.

Make the Dumplings:
2 cups soft unbleached flour
1/3 cup mixed minced fresh herbs: parsley, dill, chives
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup softened unsalted butter
1 extra-large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
 2 cups frozen peas

Meaure the flour into a mixing bowl, and add the finely minced herbs (in whatever proportion seems good to you), the salt, and the baking powder. Cut the butter into small pieces and add it to the flour, then cut or rub it into the flour until it is in pea-sized bits.

Break in the egg and add the buttermilk. Mix until well blended and the dough forms a rough ball. Divide it into 16 to 18 roughly equal portions. Using floured hands, roll each portion into a ball and drop it into the simmering stew. (Put the peas in the stew just before you start adding the dumplings.) Once the dumplings are all in, cover the stew and simmer for 17 to 20 minutes. 

Last year at this time I made Lamb Meatball Soup with Cabbage & Barley.


CallieK said...

We're harvesting fresh (or rather overwintered and now growing again) carrots already! The strange effects of the winter that wasn't continue...

Ferdzy said...

You should eat them fairly quickly as I think they will get very tough once they start going to seed. But in the mean-time, a nice spring-time bonus.

It has been very strange... I went for a walk yesterday and saw all kinds of tent-caterpillers starting already! Very weird.

Michael Albert said...

At this end of the world (Dunedin, NZ) it's autumn, so I used pumpkin in place of most of the root vegetables (kept the carrot though -- can't beat NZ carrots). Thanks for the reminder about this classic dish.