William Shakespeare wrote, “Now is the winter of our discontent.” Well, William, I have to say, given I am of the Goldilocks school of thought, not too hot, not too cold, but just right, “Every winter is the winter of my discontent.” This is especially true of the brutal season we are experiencing this year. Everyday, since early November, we have looked out upon a covering of snow disguising even the slightest promise of green. Couple that with the frigid temps brought to us by the Polar Vortex and we have a formula for cabin fever. Even those lovers of winter are registering their complaints. Today I bring you the perfect cure that will wrap you up like a security blanket and make you think of grandmother’s love.
This recipe was featured on the cover of Bon Appetit magazine’s February edition. I knew the minute I retrieved it from my mailbox, that this was just what I needed to chase those blues away. My house was filled with delicious aromas and the completed dish was perfectly balanced. There is a make ahead element as well. We all love that.
This is how it unfolds.
CHICKEN & DUMPLINGS w/ MUSHROOMS Serves 6
Recipe from Bon Appetit magazine, February 2014
6 oz. slab bacon, cut into ¼ inch pieces
¼ c all-purpose flour
4 chicken legs (drumsticks with thighs, about 2 lb.)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper (I used Kosher sea salt)
1 ½ lb. mixed mushrooms (I used ½ lb. shiitake and 1 lb. cremini)
1 medium onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, crushed
¼ c dry white wine
6 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
8c chicken stock
Dumplings and Assembly
¾ t Kosher salt, plus more
1 c all-purpose flour
2 t baking powder
½ t grated nutmeg
1/8 t freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs
¼ c whole milk
- Crisp bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate.
- Place flour in a shallow bowl. Season chicken with salt and pepper and dredge in flour. Working in batches, cook chicken, skin side down, in same pot over medium heat until golden brown and crisp(do not turn), 12-15 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
- Working in two batches, cook mushrooms in same pot, seasoning with salt and pepper, stirring occasionally, until brown, 5-8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
- Add onion and garlic to the pot; cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft and translucent, 5-8 minutes.
- Add wine to the pot; simmer until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken, bacon, thyme, bay leaves and stock; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and gently simmer, partially covered, skimming occasionally, until chicken is falling off the bone, 2-2 ½ hrs.
- Add the mushrooms and simmer until flavors meld, 10-15 minutes; taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
Dumplings and Assembly
- Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Whisk flour, baking powder, nutmeg, pepper, and ¾ t salt in a medium bowl. Whisk in eggs and milk (batter will be slightly lumpy).
- Reduce heat until water is at a strong simmer. Drop teaspoons full of batter into the water; cook until dumplings are cooked through and doubled in size, about 5 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon and add to stew just before serving.
Do Ahead: Stew (without the dumplings) can be made 3 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill.
This dish offers ultimate comfort and warmth. The smokiness of the bacon paired with the earthiness of the mushrooms is the perfect platform for the pillowy dumplings and fall off the bone tenderness of the succulent chicken. If your thoughts are drifting to those “gut bombs” passing as dumplings you have had in the past, push them immediately from your memory. These are soft, light, and airy and will melt in your mouth. The chicken stays moist and juicy and don’t even get me started on the broth. So savory you will want to serve this with both a fork and a spoon so you scoop up every drop. It will keep your palate engaged all the way to the bottom of the bowl. You might think I am over stating, but trust me, it is that good.
There are many versions of stew around the globe. I love making them and even more, I love eating and sharing them. The melding of all the flavors is so satisfying. Serve this dish to your family and friends and you will immediately be elevated to the status of culinary royalty. It is the perfect way to spread the love, one warming dish at a time.
I will be taking a couple of weeks off to visit my children and grandchildren on the West coast. I hope to be putting love on their tables as is tradition when “Nonna” visits. I will be back around the end of the month. Until then, keep cooking. I would love to hear what you are making to cure the winter blues. Jeanne