Chicken & Dumplings Here & At Home

There are two dri­ving mis­sions behind Stock.
One, to show­case the best of what Local Foods has to offer in each and every dish.
Two, to hon­or and expand Mid­west­ern food tra­di­tions.
Our Chick­en and Dumplings epit­o­mizes each of those goals. 

Each week (and real­ly each day) myself and the oth­er cooks talk about what ingre­di­ents are show­ing best, what do we have the most of, what are we excit­ed about using. Last fall we heard from the ware­house side of Local Foods that they had extra Bane Fam­i­ly Farm chick­ens. So we start­ed brain­storm­ing what we want­ed to make with some of the best chick­en we had ever tast­ed.

It was just start­ing to get cold, so our favorite chick­en sal­ad didn’t make sense. We were already doing the Mon­day Night Roast Chick­en Din­ner, so some could go to that, but what else could we do? 

Alli­son, the sous chef at the time, said, “How about chick­en and dumplings?” 

It was get­ting cold out and made per­fect, Mid­west­ern sense. What didn’t make sense was how we would make the dish work in a restau­rant set­ting.

Tra­di­tion­al­ly the dumplings in Chick­en and Dumplings are poached just before serv­ing in the soup liq­uid. That would take too long to do for each indi­vid­ual dish, espe­cial­ly dur­ing the fast-paced lunch rush. It also wouldn’t work to make the dumplings and hold them hot in the soup; they would fall apart in no time mak­ing the soup glop­py and gluey. (Which, truth be told, was my only pre­vi­ous expe­ri­ence with Chick­en and Dumplings— a hot, sticky, glute­ny mess.)

So we con­tin­ued to puz­zle it out as we sea­soned and roast­ed the chick­en to make the soup.
We kept talk­ing as we cut the onions, gar­lic, and cel­ery that would slow­ly sweat with but­ter and thyme to make the soup base.
And right around the time that the roast­ed car­rots came out of the oven, I hit on the solu­tion.

At oth­er restau­rants I had made a Parisian gnoc­chi, pate au choux dumplings that we would poach in advance and then crisp to order. They were rich and deli­cious while still light as air despite being stud­ded with cheese and grainy mus­tard. And, tak­ing inspi­ra­tion from Chi­nese soup tra­di­tion, adding a fried dumpling to soup would add rich­ness to the fin­ished soup with­out adding weight to the broth. 

And just like that we cut the Gor­dian knot. What we had on our hands was a win­ter potage that hits all our marks of suc­cess.

Uti­lizes the finest ingre­di­ents from Local Foods… CHECK.
Has its roots in Mid­west­ern Food Tra­di­tions… CHECK.
Is our mod­ern take on those tra­di­tions… CHECK.
Has good fla­vor and appeal­ing tex­ture… CHECK.
Is some­thing shop­pers could make at home…CHECK.

Below is a recipe to make the soup your­self at home and here’s reas­sur­ance from the Chica­go Tri­bune that they like our Chick­en and Dumplings as much as we do!

Dumpling Dough

Poach the dough in sim­mer­ing water to make light, cheesy dumplings that will not fall apart even after hours in a soup.

Pro Tip: have the poach­ing water close to the top of the pot. The fur­ther the dumplings have to drop the high­er the splash and that hurts. Also, dip the knife in the poach­ing water to help slick the cut­ting sur­face and cre­ate less drag.

¾ C water
3 oz but­ter
1 ½ tsp salt
1 C all pur­pose flour
1 T Dijon mus­tard
2 T pars­ley, chopped
½ C swiss cheese or parme­san
3 lg eggs

Com­bine water, but­ter and salt and sim­mer
Stir in flour with a wood­en spoon until dough firs the bot­tom
Stir 5 min until it steams and you can smell cooked flour
Trans­fer dough to a mix­er and add mus­tard, pars­ley and cheese and mix
Mix on low adding eggs 1×1 until prop­er texture—should slide off a spoon
Fill a pas­try bag (or zip­pered plas­tic bag) and let dough rest 30 min
Fill a medi­um sized pot with salt­ed water and bring to a sim­mer
Cut the tip from the bag and with a pair­ing knife cut the bat­ter as you squeeze it out though the hole. This takes some prac­tice, but do it sev­er­al times in a row and you’ll get the feel for it.
The dumplings will sink to the bot­tom of the pot and then float to the top
When the dumplings begin to turn them­selves over, they are done. Scoop them from the poach­ing water with a slot­ted spoon and allow to cool on a cook­ie sheet
When ready to serve these in soup or as a side dish, sim­ply warm gen­tly in water or in the soup itself.
At the restau­rant we crisp the dumplings in neu­tral oil in a fry­ing pan and then float them in our chick­en soup for the Chick­en and Dumplings. 

For the Chick­en Soup

1 whole roast­ing bird, sea­soned lib­er­al­ly with salt and pep­per
4 car­rots
2 T but­ter or olive oil
2 onions
3 cloves gar­lic
5 sprigs thyme
1/2 C white wine

Roast the chick­en and then pick the meat from the bone
Turn the bones and skin into chick­en stock
Cut the car­rots into 1” pieces
Toss with olive oil, salt and pep­per and roast until ful­ly ten­der and deeply browned
Slice the onions and gar­lic thin­ly
Heat the but­ter in a large soup pot
Fry the thyme until fra­grant
Remove the sprigs and dis­card
Add the onions and gar­lic and a big pinch of salt
Sweat until ten­der but not col­ored
Add the wine and let reduce until dry
Add the chick­en stock and bring to a boil
Taste and add more salt and pep­per as need­ed
Add the chick­en meat and car­rots and float the dumplings the soup just before serv­ing