Cozy Up To Chicken and Rye Dumplings

Chicken stew with fluffy dumplings made with rye flour.
Chicken stew with fluffy dumplings made with rye flour.

It may be Lunar New Year, when all eyes and stomachs turn to devouring dumplings for their pouch-like shape that signifies fortune and prosperity.

Me? As someone who considers themself inclusive, I endorse broadening that range, After all, I don’t think I’ve ever met a dumpling of any origin that I didn’t like.

That’s especially true when it comes to “Chicken & Rye Dumplings.”

This is a seriously comforting dish, one with a soulful poultry taste, substantial amounts of veggies like homemade “Chunky Soup,” and a raft of fluffy, nutty tasting dumplings galore.

The recipe is from “The Complete Beans and Grains Cookbook,” of which I received a review copy, by America’s Test Kitchen.

You’ll find more than 450 recipes for beans and grains, those economical, nutritious, and versatile staples that do a body good, especially when combined together for a punch of protein-packed carbs.

Along with tips on the best ways to cook dried beans, rice, and various other grains, you’ll spy tantalizing recipes such as “Chickpea Bouillabaisse,” “Mustard-Roasted Chicken with Warm Green Bean and Potato Salad,” “Twice-Cooked Barley with Sauteed Squid,” and “Slow-Cooker Braised Pork Chops with Campfire Beans.”

For this destined-to-be classic riff, chicken thighs are simmered in a Dutch oven with white wine and chicken broth, along with plenty of sliced leeks, carrots, and cremini mushrooms. Minced dried porcini mushrooms add an incomparable earthy and meaty depth of flavor while garlic, bay leaves, and thyme create additional layers of herby deliciousness. A squirt of fresh lemon juice toward the end lifts everything.

When the chicken is cooked through, shred the meat and add it back to the pot. Then, stir together all-purpose and rye flours with baking powder, salt, warm milk, and melted butter to create a thick batter. Drop spoonfuls into the pot, cover, and allow to steam.

The dumplings expand as they cook in the pot.
The dumplings expand as they cook in the pot.

Lift the lid to reveal the dumplings bobbing in the mix, and doubled in size. Sprinkle everything with chives, and ladle into bowls to enjoy.

The recipe does call for light or medium rye flour. I could find only dark rye flour at my supermarkets. But truth be told, even the dark variety is still fairly light in color, so using it won’t mar the dish in any way.

The recipe also says to remove the skin from the chicken thighs after searing, then discard. Since I hate waste, I put the skin on plate and microwaved it for a few seconds to crisp it up (it will crisp up even more if you let it cool a few seconds afterward, too). Use it as an indulgent garnish sprinkled atop the chicken and dumplings, or a crunchy addition to a green salad to serve as a first course.

2022 Fiddlehead Cellars Sauvignon Blanc.
2022 Fiddlehead Cellars Sauvignon Blanc.

For the wine used in the dish, I used a sample of the 2022 Fiddlehead Cellars Sauvignon Blanc ($32). Made from grapes grown at the La Pressa vineyard, a historic site in Los Olivios District, it is a non-malolactic wine cold fermented entirely in stainless steel. It develops plenty of acidity, but not the searing kind of New Zealand wines. It’s redolent of lemon meringue, lemon peel, and guava, along with a medium weight that lets it stand up beautifully to this robust chicken and dumplings.

Indeed, this is a hearty dish, more stew than soup, thickened with big pieces of tender chicken, mushrooms, and carrots. The dumplings are a fun addition, airy and plump, and just so homey tasting.

Tuck into a big bowl of this to revel in the plentiful year ahead.

You can't help but have a great year after indulging in this.
You can’t help but have a great year after indulging in this.

Chicken and Rye Dumplings

(Serves 6 to 8)

For the stew:

3 pounds bone-in chicken thighs, trimmed

1 1/4 teaspoons table salt, divided

3/4 teaspoon pepper, divided

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra as needed

1 1/2 pounds cremini mushrooms, trimmed and quartered

2 leeks,, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise, sliced 1/2-inch thick, and washed thoroughly

2 carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4-inch on bias

1/4 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed and minced

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme or 3/4 teaspoon dried

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/4 cup dry white wine

5 cups chicken broth

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon lemon juice

3 tablespoons minced fresh chives

For the dumplings:

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

2/3 cup medium or light or dark rye flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon table salt

2/3 cup milk, warmed to 110 degrees

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the stew: Pat chicken dry with paper towels, then sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add half of chicken and cook until well browned on both sides, about 5 minutes per side; transfer to a plate. Repeat with remaining chicken. Pour off all but 3 tablespoons fat from pot (or add extra oil as needed to equal 3 tablespoons). Remove and discard skin from chicken. (Or save to crisp up, as mentioned in the post above.)

Add cremini mushrooms and 1/4 teaspoon salt to fat in pot and cook over medium heat until fond forms, about 7 minutes. Add leeks and carrots and cook until leeks soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in porcini mushrooms, garlic, and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in flour and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in wine, scraping up any browned bits. Whisk in chicken broth, then add bay leaves and chicken and any accumulated juices. Bring to simmer, then reduce heat to low, and cook, covered, until chicken registers at least 175 degrees, 20 to 25 minutes.

Transfer the chicken to cutting board and let cool slightly. Once cool enough to handle, shred chicken into bite-sized pieces using 2 forks, and discard bones. Discard bay leaves, then return shredded chicken to stew.

For the dumplings: Whisk all-purpose flour, rye flour, baking powder, and salt together in medium bowl. Combine milk and melted butter in 2-cup liquid measuring cup, then stir milk mixture into flour mixture until incorporated and no dry flour remains.

Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and lemon juice to stew, then bring to vigorous simmer. Using greased tablespoon measure, drop rounded portions of dumpling batter evenly over top of stew; you should have about 16 to 20 dumplings. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook until dumplings have doubled in size, and toothpick inserted into center of dumpling comes out clean, about 10 minutes. Off heat, remove lid and let sit for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with chives and serve.

Adapted from “The Complete Beans & Grains Cookbook” by America’s Test Kitchen

More Recipes Using Rye Flour: Blackberry-Rye Cream Scones

And: Big Raspberry-Rye Cookies

And: Salted Chocolate-Rye Cookies

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  • CAROLYN! By incredible coincidence, I have pre-prepped and am getting ready to cook my beloved mother in law’s chicken and dumplings recipe tonight. (Pre-prep was browning the chicken last night; in case the power goes out with all this wind, we can finish the process on top of the wood burning stove this evening.) This used to be my husband’s favorite meal and I have not made it in more than two decades. I had so much fun cooking with our 9-y-old grandson here on Christmas, that I invited him over to help me prepare this family favorite today. Like you, I am very much a believer in the power of food to convey not only physical nourishment, but also the love of family and favorite traditions. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how much I am looking forward to this afternoon and evening. I will tell him stories about his great-grand parents — he will tell me stories about 4th grade. My heart, and eventually* our tummies, will be full.

    *(I discovered on Christmas that it takes just a bit longer to get a meal ready when one’s sous chef is nine. Well worth the wait!)

  • Hi Carroll: Whoa, great stomachs do crave alike! LOL I’m glad you’re returning to an old family favorite. Those always satisfy. Here’s hoping your power stays on, too.

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