California has been rain-starved this winter, something that has everyone feeling a little uneasy, especially the surrounding farming community up here in Sonoma County. As the skies finally opened up for what looks like a week long storm (sigh of relief) our family took to the outdoors to celebrate with a good old fashioned rain walk. Our destination was the park for some worm hunting, mud football and Olympic style rain luge down playground slides. We got very wet. After the boys took a hot bubble bath and watched Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (now that's a crazy movie), we sat down for an early dinner of chicken and dumplings. This is a healthy, French inspired version of the dish; a perfect comfort food for a day like this. I've put together the recipe below. Here's hoping for another week of swinging in the rain...
Braised Chicken + Rosemary Dumplings, 4 servings
3 carrots, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, sliced
1 russet potato, peeled,diced
2 tbsp fresh thyme
2 whole bone-in chicken breasts
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup flour
1 tbsp smokey paprika
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup white wine
8 cups low sodium chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
For Rosemary-Olive Oil Dumplings
1 2/3 cup flour
1 tbsp dried rosemary
2 tsp sea salt
2/3 cup milk*
1/3 cup olive oil
Start by incorporating 1/2 cup of flour, paprika, dry thyme, and salt in a wide, shallow bowl. Remove the skin from the chicken, and chop in half to make 4 portions. In an extra large pan, I use a cast iron skillet, warm the olive oil over medium-high flame. Dredge the chicken in the flour, shaking off excess before placing meat side down in the pan. Sear until light brown and evening sealed on all sides. Remove from the pan, set aside to be added to the stew.
After removing the chicken, in the same pan, saute the mirepoix (carrot, onion, celery)until the onion starts to become translucent. Add in the garlic, potato, and herbs. Saute for another minute or two. Pour the wine over the vegetables, saute until the liquid reduces, then add in the stock. Bring to a simmer and place the chicken, meat side down into the stew. Reduce to medium-low flame, and simmer uncovered while you prepare the dumpling dough.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the dumpling ingredients. It should form a soft, dough. Using two teaspoons, portion off walnut sized dumplings, dropping directly into the stew, flipping after allowing to simmer for 5 minutes to cook on both sides. Dish is complete when the chicken is tender, and the dumplings are soft and cooked through.
Portion into 4 wide shallow bowls and garnish with fresh herbs.
*We make our dumplings dairy free, substituting with rice milk.