You know that feeling you get when you’re looking at a bar menu and they have an awesome beer for really cheap, or you’re watching Sportscenter and they start talking about your college team? I get that same feeling when I’m scanning my Epicurious recipe box and see something awesome that I haven’t made in a while. That feels a little shameful to admit, but I already have a blog so I guess I might as well just pile on. Anyway, I was trying to think of dishes that were a little more complex than what I’ve published so far, and I also realized I hadn’t cooked anything classically southern. I saw an opportunity to rectify both of those problems when I ran across this great chicken and dumplings recipe in my iPhone.
This meal is definitely more of a project than some other stuff on this blog, but it’s not overly difficult and it’s a thousand times better than what you get at most restaurants or out of a can. I’ve never understood why the “dumplings” in most versions of this dish seem like glorified noodles, but this recipe makes dumplings that are like airy little cornbread fritters covered in gravy. It’s really delicious, but it’s kind of monochromatic, so that’s why you should garnish it with some parsley. You just cooked for an hour, you might as well make it look nice, right?
4 chicken thighs with bone and skin
3 tablespoons cold butter
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 cup dry white whine
3/4 cup all purpose flour (with extra for gravy)
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley (with extra for garnish)
2/3 cup buttermilk (I used regular milk with about a teaspoon of vinegar whisked in)
3 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup half and half
Salt and pepper
1. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees. Over medium-high heat, melt butter into canola oil. Sprinkle salt and pepper on the skin side of the chicken, and add to hot pan with skin side down. Sprinkle more salt and pepper on the other side of the chicken. Brown the chicken for 4 minutes, then flip and brown with skin side up for another 4 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cover the pan. Cook the chicken for about 20 minutes, then remove the chicken from the pan and put it in an oven-safe pan, cover with tinfoil, and place it in the oven.
2. While your chicken is cooking, make the dough for the dumplings. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and soda, a 1/4 teaspoon salt and 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Cut the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter into small cubes and add to the dry ingredients. Mix together with a pastry blend or your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the buttermilk and mix with a spoon, just until the mixture is moistened. You’ll notice the dough start to get a foamy texture from the acid in the milk reacting with the baking soda.
3. When you have removed your chicken, skim fat from the pan juices by running through them with a small strainer. Pour in 2 3/4 cups chicken stock and turn the heat to high. In a small bowl, mix the remaining 1/4 cup chicken stock, the half and half and 2 1/2 tablespoons of flour until smooth. Add the mixture to the boiling stock and whisk until it begins to thicken, less than a minute. Add the dough to the boiling gravy in heaping spoonfuls, 7 or 8 in all. Cover the pan and reduce heat to low for about 20 minutes, or until the tops of the dumplings are dry. To serve, put chicken and dumplings on a plate and pour gravy over everything, then sprinkle your extra parsley on top.