Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Chicken Fricot with Dumplings

There are two recipes for chicken and dumplings in September, and thank goodness for that.
This one is Acadian in origin and, like many good things, starts with bacon.  I cooked the bacon in a big stock pot until the fat melted off, and then browned the chicken in it, removed the chicken, and sauteed some onions in the bacon fat.  I sprinkled the onions with flour and made a sort of roux.  Next the chicken went back into the pot with a quart and a half of water and simmered for an hour. The chicken came back out and in went some chopped carrots, potatoes and thyme to cook for a half hour longer.
While the roots cooked I pulled the chicken meat off the bones and prepared the dumplings: a simple batter of whole wheat flour, baking powder, salt, butter (cut into bits and rubbed into the flour) and cold water.  I added a bit too much water to compensate for the whole wheat flour and ended up with a very thin batter.  I even let it sit for a few minutes to thicken, but it flatly refused.
Finally (and this is the best part) - the chopped chicken returned to the pot and the dumpling batter splatted on top.  Together they simmered, covered, for 10 minutes, and then uncovered for a final 5 minutes.  Because the batter was so thin, these dumplings were very light and soft, and by the time leftovers came around, had disintegrated into the stew.  Next time I would use less water (I only added an extra ounce) or more flour. Altogether the flavor was phenomenal, and the velvety texture made this the definition of comfort food.  If I need a chicken stew recipe, this one will be high on my list.

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