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!
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
2 T butter or olive oil
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