Chicken & Dumplings

Source: Molly Stevens, All About Braising

1 (3 1/2 to 4 pound) chicken cut into 8 pieces, OR 2 3/4 pounds chicken legs and/or thighs
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion - chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
2 medium celery stalks - chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 large shallot - chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
2 strips lemon zest - removed with a vegetable peeler - each aobut 2 1/2 inches by 3/4 inch
Scant 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 cup, dry Riesling, Fume Blanc or Sancerre wine
1 cup, chicken stock - homemade or store-bought

The Dumplings
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 tablespoon, chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives or minced scallions
Scant 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 large egg- at room temperature
6-8 tablespoons, whole milk at room temperature
2 tablespoons unsalted butter - melted and cooled

The Liaison (thickening sauce)
2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup heavy cream
coarse slat and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley


To sear the chicken: Rinse the chicken pieces with cool water and dry them thoroughly them thoroughly with paper towels. Season all over with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large deep lidded skillet or shallow braising pan (12-13 inch) over medium-low heat. Add the chicken pieces skin side down, in batches so as not to crowd the pan, and gently sear until the chicken is evenly blonde (do not let the chicken brown) and no longer raw-looking, about 4 minutes. Turn the pieces over with tongs and cook on the second side for another 4 minutes, again without browning. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside. Repeat with remaining chicken.

To prepare the aromatic braising liquid: Pour off and discard all the fat from the pan. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and heat until foam subsides. Add the onion, celery, shallot, lemon zest, nutmeg and a sprinkling of salt and pepper and saute until the vegetables are softened, about 4 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the wine and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce the wine by 3/4, about 7 minutes. Add the remaining 1/2 cup wine, bring back to a gentle boil, and boil for another 6-7 minutes. Add the stock and bring just to a simmer.

To braise the chicken: Return the leggs and wings and the wing tips, back, neck, heart and gizzard (if using), to the pan arranging in one layer. Lower the heat to medium-low, cover the pan and cook the chicken for 10 minutes. Uncover the pan, and if the liquid is simmering too turbulently, lower the heat to a quiet simmer, or set a heat diffuser under the pan. turn the legs and wings over and plce the chicken breast pieces skin side up on top of the legs and wings. (Adding the breasts part-way through the braise ensures that they won't overcook and dry out. If you are using all legs and/or thighs, add them all at the start). Cover the pan and continue to braise at a lazy simmer for another 25-30 minutes, until the juices from the legs run clear when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife.

To make the dumplings (while the chicken braises): Place the flour, baking powder, salt, parsley, chives or scallion greens, and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Whisk together to blend, and make a well in the center. Add the egg and 6 tablespoons of the milk and whisk together, gathering in the flour as you whisk. Add some or all of the remaining 2 tablespoons of milk if the batter is very stiff at this point; if should be wet enough to mix but not slushy. Slowly pour in the melted butter in a steady stream, continuing to whisk gently just until all the ingredients are incorporated. Scrape the sides of the bowl once or twice while you whisk the dough. It is important not to overmix or the dumplings will be dense and springy, not tender. Leave the dough in a loose, shaggy mass, and set it aside.

To cook the dumplings: When the chicken has finished brasing, transfer the pieces to a serving platter large enough to hold the dumplings and the sauce without crowding. Remove and discard the wing tips, back, neck, heart and gizzard as you come across them, if you used them. Cover the chicken loosely with foil to keep warm, and set aside. Strain the pan juices into a bowl, pressing down lightly on the aromatics to extract as much liquid as you can before discarding them, and then return the juices to the skillet. Allow the juices to sit for a minute, and spoon off any surface fat.

Return the pan to medium hea tand bring the juices to a simmer. Using two regular tablespoons or soup spoons, form 8 dumplings with the dough and lower them gently into the simmering juices. Allow the dumplings to poach, uncovered, until they become firm on the bottom and hold their shape - about 5 minutes. Gently roll the dumplings over using a slotted spoon and poach the second side for another 5 minutes. Transfer the dumplings to the platter with the chicken and cover to keep warm.

To prepare the egg-and-cream liaison (while the dumplings poach): In a small bowl, combine the egg yolks, cream and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper. Whisk until smooth. (This mixture known as a liaison, is a classic French technique for thickening and enriching sauces just before serving.)

To finish the dish: When the dumplings are done and on the platter, reduce the heat to low to finish the sauce. You will need a ladle, a whisk and a wooden spoon. Ladle some pan juices slowly pour the warmed yolk-cream mixture into the pan juices, still whisking continuously. (This technique, known as tempering, prevents the yolks from curdling or scrambling, which they would if added directly to the hot liquid.) When the eggs are incorporated, switch from the whisk to the wooden spoon and continue stirring and gently cooking until the sauce thickens and coats the back of the spoon. Watch carefully, and do not allow the sauce to come close to a boil or it will curdle. As soon as it has thickened, remove the sauce from the heat. Taste for salt and pepper. If the sauce tastes too eggy or bland, add a long squeeze of lemon juice. Quickly spoon he sauce over the chicken and dumplings, sprinkle with chopped parsley and proudly carry the platter to the table.

1 comment:

swirlingnotions said...

I've got your Chicken and Dumplings up on Swirling Notions, Patsy. Thanks for joining the Braisy Chain!