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Until recently, chicken and dumplings weren't part of my life. The dish has always appealed to me, but on chilly nights, I usually go straight for chicken soup. Plus, I wasn't sure how it would translate to a gluten-free diet. But given how cold this winter's been, we'd grown more than a little tired of chicken soup, so I finally decided to change things up and give a dumpling recipe a run for its money.
I did a bit of research and learned that there are two kinds of dumplings: fluffy and "slick." While both look good, the slick dumplings sounded too similar to the noodles that have populated one too many of my winter soups. I wanted to bring new textures to the meal, so I jotted down a recipe for fluffy dumplings and set about making it gluten-free.
I was most worried that the dumplings might fall apart without elastic gluten to hold things together. But I wanted to mimic, as closely as possible, all-purpose wheat flour-based dumplings. I mixed together white rice flour, sweet rice flour, and cornstarch and added just a little (1/4 teaspoon) xanthan gum to help hold things together. With some milk and two eggs, the batter came together in just minutes. Now was the test: would they hold together on top of the pot of hot chicken soup? I carefully dropped the batter in and covered the pot. And, since all the chicken and dumpling experts said not to peek as the dumplings cooked, I fought the impulse to check on them, waiting by the stove impatiently to see how they'd turn out.
Twenty minutes later, the timer rang and I removed the lid from the pot. Success! The dumplings covered the entire surface of the pot and after one spoonful, I was hooked. The dough balls turn out fluffy and tender, not gummy or heavy. As I tucked into my second bowl, my only regret was that I'd waited so long to give it a try. It's since earned a regular rotation in my winter comfort food collection, where it's been beating out my go-to chicken soup (at least for now).
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