Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Chicken and dumplings, one-pottedness continues

My days of throwing a tomato on a plate with some cheese are over—with autumn comes heavy food, and my man is ready for it. It’s man food season, ladies. I guess this is nature's way of balancing out the thousands of festive gourds I make Alex suffer through his meals with.
Man food! Wow, it’s been a while since we talked about that! And what did we learn last time? Anything cooked in beer will do. 

Cold weather means hot meals. While I understand having to give up the fresh summer veg, I’m less keen on the idea of a many-plated meal. If you are all about the one-potters right now, check this out: Chicken and dumplings! Borrowing a technique from chili-bottomed cornbread, this dish sees veggies and chicken coated in a thick gravy and topped with fluffy cornmeal dumplings. It’s a one-pot wonder! The Oneders’ newest single, “That Thing You Cook.”
And you should cook it. Not only for ease of preparation, but because it’s a very therapeutic meal to make and eat: Methodically chopping the onion, carrots, and bell pepper as the chicken sizzles on the stove. Thyme and butter wafting about the house—those classic home-cooked smells and flavors. Soft, slightly sweet dumplings, that puff up and sink down into the gravy at the same time. Warmth for your belly and your soul.

One(pot)-derful Chicken and Dumplings (adapted from Martha Stewart (obviously))

         Olive oil to coat pan
         2 boneless, skinless chicken breast
         Coarse salt and ground pepper
         1 onion, diced
         1 medium green bell pepper, seeded and diced medium
         2 medium carrots, diced medium
         4 pinches red pepper flake if you like a little heat
         2 tablespoons unsalted butter
            1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
         1/4 cup all-purpose flour
         1 bottle of light beer (we used Oberon...surprise, surprise)
         1 cup of chicken stock
         1 can whole or diced peeled tomatoes
         Splash of red-wine vinegar
         Dumpling batter

Brown two chicken breasts (cut into bite-sized cubes and seasoned with salt and pepper) in a Dutch oven or large pot. Chop an onion, chop two carrots, chop a bell pepper. Remove chicken from pan, and add the chopped veggies in with butter. Season with salt and pepper. Add red pepper flakes. Let them get soft, then add flour and thyme. Cook the flour for a minute, then add the chicken stock and beer to the pan, whisking to incorporate the flour and enable thickening. Add in the tomatoes, breaking them apart with a wooden spoon if they are whole. Simmer stew uncovered for 30 minutes. After it has reduced and thickened, splash in a tablespoon of red wine vinegar and add corn meal dumpling topping to the stew. Cover and cook for 9 minutes more. Serve. (Careful, it is hot!)