[Photograph: Hélène Dujardin]

When January rolls around, I often struggle to find a compromise between my impulse to dive into plates of rich comfort food and my desire to eat more healthfully. Allison Fishman Task's chicken and dumplings from her new cookbook, Lighten Up, America!, helps to mitigate my problem. By cutting back on the butter and by carefully defatting the broth, Task transforms the traditionally rich dish into a clean-tasting meal with plenty of comfort.

Why I picked this recipe: Chicken and dumplings makes for a perfect winter meal. Preparing the dish with an eye towards healthful eating makes it even better for January.

What worked: Poaching the whole chicken in broth keeps the meat tender and moist while also helping to enrich the stock. The dumplings were a snap to stir together, and cooked up tender and fluffy.

What didn't: No problems here.

Suggested tweaks: If you don't want to wait to chill the stock, you can defat it by running it through a fat separator in batches. Using homemade chicken stock to poach the chicken instead of store-bought is a great idea if you've got it on hand.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Lighten Up, America! to give away this week.

About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer and personal chef living in Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American, KQED's Bay Area Bites, and Berkeleyside NOSH. Follow her @KateHWiliams.


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