Sometimes you just want some good ole comfort food. Something easy, creamy, warm, and of course delicious.
I first found this recipe when my dad was sick at home, recovering from chemotherapy and radiation treatments. He kept telling me he just wanted something simple, but comforting. I had been trying to impress him with meals fit for a king when all he really wanted was some down home cookin'. I don't know if you've ever been around anyone undergoing chemo, but... simple is best. Nausea usually comes hand-in-hand with the treatments, so my attempt at fancy tended to backfire.
So, I did some googling around and found this little gem from Tyler Florence. It's simple and to the point. The best part is that it can all be done in one huge Dutch oven (or really big pot). You even will have some leftover, homemade chicken stock to freeze and use for later. Booyah!
Chicken and Dumplings
Chicken and Stock:
1 5 lb. whole organic chicken
2 bay leaves
6 sprigs thyme
5 black peppercorns
1 head garlic, split through the equator
2 tablespoons Kosher salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup chopped chives
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
3/4 cup all-purpose flour, divided
8 cups chicken stock, divided
¼ cup heavy cream
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen pearl onions
Chopped chives, for garnish
For the stock:
Place the chicken and all stock ingredients in a large Dutch oven or pot and cover with cold water. Set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 1 1/2 hours until the chicken is tender and cooked through. Occasionally, skim the surface of fat and scum.
When finished, remove the chicken to a cutting board and allow to cool. Shred the chicken into large pieces. Place a large sieve into an even larger bowl and pour in the chicken stock to strain. Discard the solids and save the chicken stock. (You should have way more than enough - usually at least 6 cups remaining to freeze after you’ve cooked this recipe.)
For the dumplings:
While chicken is cooking, sift the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In a small bowl, using a whisk, lightly beat the eggs, chives and buttermilk together; pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and gently fold. Mix just until the dough comes together; the batter should be thick and cake-like. Do not over mix! This will make the biscuits tough. Refrigerate biscuit dough until ready to use.
For the sauce:
In a large Dutch oven, over medium heat, add the butter and oil. Add the carrot, celery, and bay leaves and sauté until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for an additional minute. Sprinkle in 1/4 cup of flour to make a roux (this makes the sauce thicken). Continue to stir and cook for 2 minutes to coat the vegetables in the flour. Slowly pour in a total of 6 cups of chicken stock, one cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. Add heavy cream and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.
Allow to simmer for 15 minutes, until thickened. If sauce is not thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, then combine 1 cup of chicken stock and 1/4 cup flour in a small measuring cup, whisking until smooth. Slowly pour this mixture in to the large pot, stirring to combine. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. If this sauce is still not thick enough, repeat this process again (1 cup stock + 1/4 cup flour). Allow sauce to simmer at least 15 minutes after each addition.
Once sauce has thickened, add frozen peas and pearl onions. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove and discard the bay leaves.
Fold the reserved, shredded chicken into the sauce and turn the heat up to medium-high. Using 2 spoons, carefully drop heaping tablespoonfuls of the dumpling batter into the hot mixture. The dumplings should cover the top of the sauce, but should not be touching or crowded. Let the dumplings poach for 10 to 15 minutes until they are firm and puffy. Feel free to turn the dumplings, but not more than three times.