Chicken and Buttermilk-Chive Dumplings

Chicken and Buttermilk-Chive DumplingsFalling Ill
Fall is here! You know how I know? I’ve already had two kids stay home from school sick. There is something about the transition from hot to cool that plays havoc with the immune system. Since our weather has been a bit non-committal with one week being chilly and the next week climbing back up to 90, it’s no wonder the two of them went down without much fight. And don’t get me started about flu season…

With the possibility of more colds to come, I bought a bunch of chickens and got to making stock. Perhaps it’s a myth, or an old wife’s tale, or even just plain witchcraft but something about chicken soup helps people recover from colds quicker. Really. I think they even did a study on it. Check Google.

While I love a good chicken noodle or, even better, a matzo ball soup, I almost always head in the direction of comfort food when I am not feeling well. My “older son” is the same way. (He’s a twin. He’s only older by a minute but to him, it’s an important minute.) Which is why I found myself making him some chicken and dumplings Saturday night to get some of the magical chicken qualities in him and to make him feel better. I like to tell myself it was just for him but I know better.

Anytime is a good time for chicken and dumplings and I haven’t made anything like this since last fall. I love chicken and dumplings but this is the same son who can finish an entire large pizza by himself and still want dessert so I made a big pot. It was marvelous but there were no leftovers. Sigh.

The good news is he was back in school the following Monday. Whether that was because of the soup or sheer boredom from being at home remains a mystery. I choose to believe it was the chicken stock. The recipe is below if you would like to try your own experiment….

Chicken and Buttermilk-Chive Dumplings
Adapted from Tyler Florence and the Food Network
Yields 6 to 8 servings

For the Chicken and Stock
1 (3 to 3 and 1/2 pound) whole organic chicken
6 sprigs thyme
small bunch fresh parsley
4 to 5 black peppercorns
1 head garlic, split through the equator
2 tablespoons salt

For the Buttermilk-Chive Dumplings
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/4 cup chopped chives
3/4 to 1 cup buttermilk

For the Sauce
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons oil
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
6 cups chicken stock
1 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup heavy cream

Freshly ground black pepper, for garnish
Chopped chives, for garnish

Make the stock
Place the chicken and the rest of the stock ingredients in a large Dutch oven and cover with water. Set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 1 hour until the chicken is tender. Skim the surface of fat and scum as it cooks.

When finished, remove the chicken to a cutting board. Strain the stock and shred the meat into big pieces. The stock will be used for the sauce and the chicken will be folded into it.

Make the dumplings
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.

Make the sauce
Place a Dutch oven over medium heat and add the butter and oil. Add the carrot, celery, garlic and sautée until the vegetables are soft (about 5 minutes).

Stir in the flour to make a roux. Continue to stir and cook for 2 minutes to cook the flour and remove the starchy taste.

Slowly pour in the chicken stock 1 cup at a time. Stir well after each addition. Add the frozen peas.

Allow the sauce to simmer until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (about 15 minutes). Stir in heavy cream.

Finish the dish
Fold the reserved, shredded chicken into the sauce and bring it to a simmer.

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. Allow the dumplings to poach until they are firm and puffy (about 10 to 15 minutes).

Season with freshly-cracked black pepper and garnish with chopped chives before serving.

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