Not only is this the holiday season, but it's comfort food season as well. You now what I mean, how as the temperature drops and it gets dark at the ridiculous hour of 4:30 p.m., we all start to crave warm, nourishing, homey foods,--stews and soups and casseroles we never think about during the rest of the year. Well, this chicken and dumpling concoction will not only satisfy that comfort craving, but also take a fairly traditional dish to new heights!
Chicken and dumplings is not something I grew up eating. To me, it's always been quaint, old-fashioned food, the kind you'd read about in Anne of Green Gables or Little House on the Prairie, so nostalgia had me clip this recipe out some 13 years ago and hang onto it too. When I came across it recently, I realized it was time to either get rid of it or give it a try. I'm so glad I opted for the latter, because if this is what they ate in those covered wagons, I want to go back in time!!
The chicken is first pan roasted with some shallots and then cooked in a little white wine, so that it gets infused with a lot of flavor. Then you make the biscuits, which are nothing more than flour, cornmeal, some baking soda and powder, as well as salt and pepper, a little butter and then the addition of buttermilk and fresh chives, which lifts these out of the ordinary-
Then you make a wonderful gravy and cook the dumplings right in it--
They may not be the most photogenic, but those dumplings are awesome and you will fight to get the last one!! Once they're cooked you top the chicken with the gravy and dumplings; moist flavorful chicken, smothered in a wonderful pan gravy and topped with those fluffy dumplings--Sunday dinner at its best! Dig in and pine for the good old days!!
Chicken and Cornmeal Dumplings
Makes 4 servings
Active Time: About 40 minutes; Total Time: About 1 3/4 hours
For the chicken
4 bone-in chicken breasts
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2-3 shallots, chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
For the dumplings
3/4 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoon unsalted cold butter, cut into little bits
2 tablespoons fresh chives, finely chopped
1 tablespoon flat parsley, finely chopped
2/3 cup buttermilk, well-shaken
For the gravy
3 cups chicken stock or broth
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 1/2 tablespoons flour
1. Pat chicken dry and season with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat the butter and oil over medium high heat until the foaming subsides and then brown chicken well on both sides for about 10 minutes total. Place chicken skin side up and scatter shallots all around and over chicken. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Then lower the heat, cover and simmer the chicken for 25-30 minutes, until chicken is cooked through. Transfer to a platter or casserole, cover and keep warm in a low 200ºF oven.
2. To make the dumplings: Sift the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pepper into a medium bowl. Blend in butter with a pastry blender or fingers until the mixture looks like a coarse meal. Stir in chives and parsley. Add buttermilk and mix only to blend--don't overmix. Set aside.
3. Skim any visible fat from the skillet (I didn't have much) and add 2 3/4 cups of the stock, bringing it to a boil. In a separate small bowl, whisk together cream, flour and remaining stock until smooth and then whisk into boiling stock, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Drop 8 heaping tablespoons of dough into the boiling sauce, trying to leave a couple of inches between spoonfuls so that dumplings have room to expand. Lower heat, cover pan and simmer dumplings for about 15-20 minutes, until the tops are dry to the touch.
5. Remove chicken from oven and divide among 4 bowls. Ladle dumplings and gravy over chicken.
Note: Based on an old recipe from Gourmet Magazine