Friday, October 18, 2013

Chicken Stew with Dumplings

I'm trying to use my slow cooker more as a way to efficiently use my two mornings each week at home with Amelia, and to make my evenings a little less chaotic. I'm picky about recipes, though: no canned soup, no paste-like rice, nothing with a "Mexican" theme.

Last night, I made this stew by combining two recipes I found on Pinterest and then making some changes, and it turned out amazing. It's the flavor of a warm, cozy end to a chilly fall day. It tastes like comfort. Both kids devoured it. In order to be able to reproduce it, I wrote up what I did, and thought I'd share it with y'all.

Chicken Stew with Dumplings
With big servings, feeds two adults and two kids

3 medium carrots, thinly sliced
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1/3 cup fresh or frozen veggies you like (recommended: corn, peas, baby bella mushrooms)
1/2 of a medium onion, thinly sliced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence (can sub with a combo of rosemary, thyme and/or lavender)
1 teaspoon sage
salt and pepper
1 package (3-5) chicken thighs, skinned (can use with our without bones)
1 1/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup fat-free milk (I used soy)
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
Buttermilk dumplings [recipe below]

1. Add carrots, celery, onion and garlic to slow cooker. If using corn (or any hard veggie, like a winter squash), add it as well. Sprinkle with Herbs de Provence. Add chicken and sprinkle the chicken with kosher salt, lots of cracked pepper, and sage (I like a lot of sage and add more). Pour in chicken broth.
2. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 7 to 8 hours (if no bone in your thighs, you can do 6 hours) or on high-heat setting for 3 1/2 to 4 hours. If no heat setting is available, cook for 5 to 5 1/2 hours.
3. After cooking, turn the cooker up to high. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and chop it up; remove from bones if needed, and throw out bones. Return the cut chicken to the cooker.
4. In a small bowl, stir milk and flour until smooth. Stir into mixture in cooker.
5. If adding peas or mushrooms, put them in now.
6. Make buttermilk dumplings [see below]. Drop them on top of the chicken mixture (keep a little space between them, if possible, since they'll expand). Cook an additional 20-25 minutes (do not lift lid during this time). Scoop into bowls and enjoy! Top with extra pepper if you're inclined.

Buttermilk Dumplings

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt 2 T minced parsley
1 T dried dill (the dill really makes these, IMHO - don't skip it)
Freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
1/2 cup buttermilk, or more as needed

Stir together dry ingredients. Cut in butter and stir until mixture resembles course meal. Stir in buttermilk and mix only until combined. Add a little more if it needs to come together. Pat out into 1/2 thick. Cut out 1.5 inch sections and drop on top of stew.

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