Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Tarragon Chicken and Dumplings
Chicken and dumplings was one dish I became fairly good at creating last minute sans a recipe. Homemade stock and fresh vegetables always make for a superior dinner, but in a pinch last night's rotisserie chicken, a can of cream of whatever-I-have-on-hand soup and a bag of frozen veggies paired up with from-scratch dumplings for an above average meal.
For some reason tarragon has been on my mind of late. This spice is underutilized in my repertoire. Itching to change that, I decided to take this basic dish and infuse it with the seasoning from the ground up. The joy about chicken and dumplings is that if tarragon is not to you liking, swap it out for any herb of your choice. Sage is marvelous. As is oregano. Blends add a lovely bouquet of flavor. Play around!
The recipe is my own (with dumplings inspired by the BHG CookBook)
for the stock and gravy:
2 chicken thighs, with bone and skin
4 cups water
2-3 celery tops
1 fresh bouquet garni or 1 TBSP spice blend wrapped in cheesecloth
2 Tbsp fresh tarragon or 2 tsp dried
4 Tbsp butter
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
2 medium carrot, diced
3 Tbsp flour
salt and pepper to taste
for the dumplings:
1 cup flour
1/4 cup milk
2 Tbsp oil
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp dried tarragon
1/4 tsp salt
In a 2-qt saucepan, add the chicken thighs, water, bouquet garni, tarragon and celery stalks. Bring the water to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 45 minutes. remove the chicken thighs to a bowl until cool enough to handle. Strain the broth into another bowl. Discard herbs and celery.
Once the chicken has cooled, remove the skin and bones. Coarsely chopped the meat and set aside.
Meanwhile prepare the dumplings by whisking together the milk, egg and oil in a medium bowl. Sift the flour salt and baking powder together. Add the dry mixture to the wet, combine until just moistened. Do not over mix. Using two large spoons drop heaping tablespoons of batter into the gravy (making 6-8 dumplings). Return the gravy to a gentle simmer, cover and let the dumplings poach undisturbed for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the thickest dumpling comes out clean.
This dish is comfort food, pure and simple. Nothing about chicken and dumpling is out of this world. This version is be no means gourmet, though it is prepared with care and attention. The flavor combinations are not revolutionary. What it is... is nourishing. And comforting. Sometimes that is enough. These are the dishes we keep coming back to...