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.
Reprinted with permission from Lighten Up, America! Favorite American Foods Made Guilt-Free by Allison Fishman Task. Copyright 2013. Published by Oxmoor House. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.
- For the Stock:
- 1 (4-pound) whole chicken
- 10 cups water
- 4 cups unsalted chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped (about 6 ounces)
- 2 carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 5 ounces)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 onion, peeled and cut into wedges (about 10 ounces)
- 1/2 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley (about 2 ounces)
- For the Soup and Dumplings:
- 3 tablespoons butter, divided
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1/4 cup sliced celery
- 1 carrot, halved lengthwise and sliced
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4.5 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 cup)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 6 tablespoons nonfat buttermilk
- Remaining Ingredients
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
To prepare stock, remove giblets and neck from chicken; trim excess fat. Place chicken, 10 cups water, and next 7 ingredients (through parsley bunch) in an 8-quart stock pot. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, 1 hour, skimming foam from surface as necessary. Remove from heat; let stand 20 minutes.
Remove skin from chicken; remove chicken from bones, discarding skin and bones. Shred chicken with 2 forks into bite-sized pieces. Strain broth through a sieve into a large bowl; discard solids. Cool broth and chicken to room temperature. Cover and chill broth and chicken 8 to 24 hours. Skim solidified fat from surface; discard. Reserve 8 cups of the broth and all of the chicken. Refrigerate remaining broth in an airtight container for up to 1 week, or freeze for up to 3 months for another use.
To prepare dumplings, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, celery, and carrot to pan; cook 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in 1 tablespoon flour, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper; cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Stir in 8 cups reserved stock. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Weigh or lightly spoon 4.5 ounces flour (about 1 cup) into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, stirring with a whisk. Cut in 2 tablespoons butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add buttermilk, stirring until moist.
Drop dough in 24 (about 1-teaspoon) portions into broth mixture. Cover and cook 8 minutes. Gently stir in reserved shredded chicken and thyme. Simmer very low 6 minutes or until thoroughly heated and dumplings are done. Remove from heat, and ladle into shallow bowls. Sprinkle evenly with chopped parsley.