Chicken and Dumplings
5 Dec 2006

I have a memory of chicken and dumplings from growing up that I can't quite put my finger on. I remember warmth and salt and the texture of shredded chicken and doughy little pillows. I remember eating this bowl of goodness outside at some community or church potluck, on a cool fall day in the deep south with the leaves crunching around but the grass still green underfoot. It's not quite enough for me to go on to recreate the recipe of the soup and the feeling that it imparts, but it's enough to keep me trying. Particularly on days like yesterday, cool and grey out, with little bursts of sunshine every so often. Plus, it just so happens that Tami of Running with Tweezers is hosting a new soupy blog event, Super Souper Challenge. How could I resist! I figured that The Joy of Cooking was probably my best bet at a starter recipe. The JOC recipe, however, was a fricasse rather than a soup, more gravy than broth, and nothing much like my phantom recipe. Still, it was mighty delicious and worth making again. A note on dumplings in soup: make them small... smaller than you think you should, or you'll end up with big doughy clumps that can get quite heavy and don't cook completely. There's good doughy and bad doughy. Keep them small for the best result! Chicken and Dumplings (adapted from The Joy of Cooking) Makes about 3 hearty bowls of soup The soup 2 chicken breasts 2 T butter 1 small onion, chopped 1 leek, chopped on a bias 1/4 flour 2 cups chicken stock 1 cup hot water 2 carrots, diced 2 stalks of celery, diced 1/2 t thyme 1 t sage a dash of paprika salt pepper The dumplings 1 cup flour 1/2 T baking powder a pinch of salt 1/2 cup milk 1 T butter Lightly salt and pepper the chicken breasts. Heat a heavy bottomed skillet on medium-high heat until very hot, and add 1 T of the butter. When the butter has melted, place the chicken in the pan and sear for 3 minutes. Flip, and sear on the other side for 3 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add the onions and leeks and reduce the heat to low. Stir frequently, and cook for about 5 minutes until the onions are translucent. Add the flour, and stir to coat. Then, add the hot water and chicken stock and increase the heat to medium-high, whisking until it comes to a boil. Add the carrots, celery, thyme, sage and paprika and stir to combine. Reduce heat to low, so the broth just bubbles. Slice the chicken in to thin slices, and add to the pan, pushing them down into the broth. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the flour, baking powder and salt for the dumplings in a small bowl. Bring the milk and butter to a simmer in a sauce pan. With a fork, mix the milk mixture into the flour until it's well moistened. Remove the lid from the cooking chicken, and if needed skim off any fat. Season to taste. Take about 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon scoops of the dumpling dough, and form into a rough ball. Drop the dough into the broth. Repeat until you have as many dumplings as you'd like. Cook for about 10 minutes, and serve immediately.

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