Chicken and dumplings are a winter staple. Very often in the past, it was used as a tasty way to avoid waste by using older, tougher hens. In this particular situation, instead of utilizing a whole chicken, you could utilize the meat from two or three carcasses from which the breasts and thigh quarters have been removed for other dishes. Additionally, although this recipe calls for peas and carrots you can feel free to utilize whatever vegetables you prefer and particularly those that are inexpensive and available during the winter season. These may include things like potatoes, turnips, or parsnips. Historically, these types of meals vary greatly in composition because they were dependent on whatever ingredients were readily available. So feel free to be creative and economical at the same time!
Chicken and Stock
- 1 whole chicken roughly 2-2.25 Kg (roaster or stewing chicken/hen; approximately 5 pounds)
- 2 teaspoons (~ 10 mL) neutral vegetable oil
- 2 small onions, quartered
- 3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
- 1 celery rib, medium, chopped into ¾ inch pieces
- 50 mL (~¼ cup) dry sherry
- 4 L (~4 quarts) water
- Herb and Spice Sachet:
- Several sprigs of fresh thyme leaves
- Several sprigs of fresh oregano
- 1 sprig of fresh rosemary
- Several sprigs of fresh parsley
- 1 Tbs black peppercorns
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 lemon quartered
- 8 ounces frozen peas
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves (for garnish)
- Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
- 285g (~2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 4 g (1 teaspoon) baking soda
- 4 g (1 teaspoon) baking powder
- 4 g (1 teaspoon) salt
- 180 mL (~¾ cup) buttermilk
- 60 g (~4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 egg white
Stock: If you already have pre-done chicken stock, you can skip this step and simply add the whole chicken to 4 L of stock. If you like, you may add the sachet of spices and herbs as well.
Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or another large stockpot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onions, carrots, and celery. Soften the vegetables over medium heat, about 3 minutes. Do not allow them to color. Add the sherry and cook until almost all the liquid is gone.
While the vegetables cook, place all the sachet ingredients into some cheesecloth and tie off.
Add the water, chicken, and herb sachet. Bring to simmer, cover, and cook until tender; approximately 4 hours. As the chicken cooks, occasionally skim the foam and other bits from the surface and discard.
Remove pot from heat and transfer chicken to cutting board. Allow the chicken to cool and shred the meat. Remove the sachet. Strain the stock and reserve the carrots and celery, set aside. Return the strained stock to the pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce by half, approximately 90 minutes.
FOR THE DUMPLINGS. Mix dry ingredients together; flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Combine buttermilk, egg white, and cooled, melted butter in a medium bowl; whisk to thoroughly combine. Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients and fold until just incorporated. Lightly bring the dumpling mixture together.
Return stock to the boil. Using a greased tablespoon measure (or #60 portion scoop), scoop level amount of the dumpling mixture and drop into the stock, spacing about ¼ inch apart (you should have approximately 24 dumplings). Wrap lid of Dutch oven or stockpot with a clean kitchen towel (keeping towel away from heat source) and cover pot. Reduce the heat, add the peas and gently simmer until dumplings have doubled in size and the toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, roughly 15 minutes. Layer chicken, carrots, and celery into the serving vessel. Ladle the dumpling, stock, and peas over the chicken and vegetables into the vessels. Garnish with parsley. Serve immediately.