Being an Asian, I'm no stranger to dumplings, otherwise known as jiaozi (boiled dumplings) or guotie (pot stickers). The existence of this common Chinese dish dates back to well before Jesus was born. But chicken and dumplings together in a pot? The idea is foreign to someone who's used to pan frying them. Having read so much about this southern/mid-western delicacy, I was curious enough to give it a go.
The chicken pieces are infused with leek and butter and then simmered in wine and stock resulting in moist and melt in your mouth goodness then triggers every taste bud in your mouth. Though a little apprehensive in the beginning, I was thrilled with dumplings. Soft, fluffy and delicate. Perfect for soaking up every bit of the scrumptious sauce. The hubs loved it so much, he ate just about every dumpling in the casserole pan.
I decided to try out the recipe from Gwyneth Paltrow's cookbook, Notes from My Kitchen Table which I'd adapted a little. I prefer mine with more vegetables but there's no need to follow the recipe word for word with the exception of the dumplings. It's easier to guesstimate and follow your own taste buds. It's a straightforward recipe which requires a single pot and little washing up later (great new for those who hate washing dishes, like moi).
1 free range whole chicken
freshly ground pepper
15g unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 stalk celery, roughly chopped
2 small leek, sliced thinly
2 slices smoked bacon, diced
2 large carrot, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (don't substitute these with dried ones as they're not as fragrant)
125ml white wine
500ml chicken stock (I like Kallo organic chicken stock cube)
125g plain flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
125ml single cream
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
Fresh parsley for garnish
1. Preheat the oven to 200˚C / 400˚F / Gas 6.
2. Wash and dry the chicken. Remove the back and store it to make stock if you wish. Cut the chicken into pieces.
3. Season the chicken pieces with pepper. There's no need to add salt if you're using stock cube. Heat butter and olive oil in the largest, widest ovenproof pan you have (26cm or 30cm in diameter). Thoroughly brown the chicken pieces. It takes 5-8 minutes. Remove the chicken and leave fat in the pan.
4. Add the vegetables, bacon and thyme to the pan and cook for 10 minutes over medium-low heat. Return the chicken to the pan. Add the white wine, bring it to the boil so that the alcohol evaporates. Season with freshly ground pepper. Pour in the stock and water.
5. Turn off the heat, put the lid on and cook the chicken in preheated oven for 1.5 hours.
6. Meanwhile, combine the flour, baking powder, cream and fine salt together in a bowl. Take the pan out of the oven and scoop large spoonfuls of the dumpling mixture on top of the chicken. You should end up with about 10 dumplings.
7. Cover the pan and put back in the oven for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve immediately and spoon plenty of the juices over each portion.