CHICKEN AND DUMPLINGS
The shoulder season has us craving both spring chicken and lingering winter comforts, from slow-cooked foods to sweatpants. Nashville chef Sean Brock’s “last meal,” which he claims this dish would be, serves up both. The one-pot Southern classic features a recipe that has been in the Brock family for generations, made by both his mother and grandmother, and now featured on the menu at Audrey.
Yields 6-8 servings.
- 1 three-pound whole chicken
- Mixed vegetables, cleaned and chopped (such as onion, garlic, parsnip, celeriac, turnip, etc.)
- 1 half-gallon broth (such as dashi, blond chicken broth, chicken foot jelly, or mushroom broth)
- Soy sauce, to taste
- 1 bunch fresh whole herbs, plus more for garnish (such as thyme, parsley, rosemary, etc.)
- 1 Tbsp. whole butter
- 2 cups self-rising flour
- 1-1 ½ cup old-fashioned buttermilk
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Truffles and lemon juice for garnish
Turn your oven on as high as it goes with the fan on if you have one.
Wash, dry, and season the chicken with salt and black pepper. Let sit at room temperature.
Heat up a half-gallon or so of delicious broth (dashi, blond chicken broth, chicken foot jelly, or even mushroom broth). Next, add some vegetables (we use onion, garlic, parsnip, celeriac, turnip). You can chop them up if you want to serve them, or leave them in large pieces to pull out later, if you don’t.
Taste the broth and then season it with some soy sauce and black pepper. Carefully lower the chicken into a large enough pot to cover the chicken, placing it so that the legs are touching the bottom. They will cook faster there and help keep the breast moist. Throw in some whole herbs if you want (we use thyme, parsley, and rosemary).
Bring the pot to a gentle simmer and place a well-fitting lid on top. Turn the heat down to achieve a pleasant bubble every once in a while. After about 20 minutes, start trying to pull out the drumstick. When it comes out clean, you are good to go. Remove the chicken from the pot, and when cool enough, remove and discard the bones. Try not to break up the dark meat too much and gently pull each breast into 6-8 pieces. Place the picked meat in a bowl and splash some broth on it to keep moist. Taste the chicken (sometimes it needs more salt). Allow this to hang out while you make your dumplings.
Season about two cups of self-rising flour with salt and black pepper. Finely chop a teaspoon of whole butter and work it into the flour mixture until incorporated. Next, you’ll add the real-deal, full-fat, old-fashioned-style buttermilk. Stir until a little batter comes together.
Place the chicken back into the broth and bring the pot to a simmer. Now it’s time to mix the dumplings.
Stir like crazy for about 30 seconds or so with a wooden spoon. Check the gluten structure—you need to have a tiny bit. Stir like crazy again for another 30 seconds or so. You should start to see some air incorporated into the mixture and the dough has just started to form a little gluten.
Take two big spoons and start dropping some nice big dumplings of batter into the pot. Shoot for the hottest part of the pot to help set the shape. We like them round but you can make them any shape you want.
Place the lid back on the pot and place the whole thing in the preheated oven. If your oven gets really, really hot, then they should be ready in about 15 minutes or so. We let the whole thing rest for 2-3 minutes before we take the lid off. Take a spoon and glaze the dumplings with the broth so they are nice and shiny.
We serve with fresh herbs, truffles, and lemon juice over the top.
Recipe and photo courtesy of Sean Brock.
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