Holy crap was this recipe ever delicious. “Such silken rich broth! So meaty! Is this really chicken???” The Hubs and I exchanged several questions over our stew in-between the mmmmm’s, slurps, and gahhhhhmmm’s. I cooked Bon Appetit’s February cover last night.
I woke up this morning (still!) to the lingering heavenly sent scent (HA) of tender, slow-cooked chicken with a hint of bacon. That’s how this chicken and dumplings recipe plays out; it’s a hint of bacon and then concentrated in-your-face chicken flavor. Even the mushrooms tasted super meaty. The Hubs declared this magnificent one-pot-wonder of a meal to be the most perfect, bone-warming stew for a freezing-rain, dreary cold day outside. I felt satisfied and once again connected to my mid-western roots! Reminiscent of Coq Au Vin, this recipe’s story begins where many good recipe’s stories begin, with bacon.
Here’s a lardon bacon trick for you: buy the thick cut style (I like the Wright brand), and put it in the freezer. When a recipe calls for lardon, take it out of the freezer, and just cut off the amount you want to use, pop back into the freezer. Recipes like this call for such a small amount, the freezer makes it possible to to keep bacon for months!
The recipe calls for 6 oz of bacon lardons. Sure you can measure it out, but I just cut 5 end’s worth (about 1/4″ thick) of lardon (French for “tiny bacon pieces”) off of the bacon block. It was probably more like 4 oz of bacon, but really, you just need enough to render a little grease in the pan so you can sear your chicken. In a dutch oven, or large stock pot, cook the bacon until crisp, then remove the lardons from the pot. Don’t worry about all those brown remnants left behind. We’ll get to that in a little bit.
In a shallow bowl or small casserole dish, place flour and season with salt & pepper, whisking to combine. Dredge chicken in flour, then sear it over medium heat in the leftover bacon drippings until deep golden brown. You’ll probably need to do this in batches to sear all the chicken evenly. Once seared, transfer chicken to a plate.
leaving the pot as is, toss the mushrooms in, again, over medium heat. BA doesn’t say to do so, but at this point I deglazed the pot a little bit with dry white wine, scraping up the browned bits and making a thickened sauce with the mushrooms. I used 1/4 cup of white wine to deglaze. Cook for 5-8 minutes and remove mushrooms from pot, set aside in a bowl for later.
Add the onion and garlic to the pot, season with salt and pepper, and stir well to combine with the bits and mushroom juices. Cook for 5-8 minutes, or until onions just begin to get translucent.
Add the wine to the pot, simmer for 5 minutes until reduced by half, again, scraping up any bits from the bottom of the pot. Add chicken, bacon, thyme, bay leaves, and broth. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce to a gentle simmer. Cook partially covered on the stove at a simmer for 2-2 1/2 hours, or until chicken is falling off the bone. Add mushrooms and simmer another 10-15 minutes.
Next step, dumplings. Skip it. Honestly, when I make this again (oh yes, I WILL make it again) I will use arborio rice as starch in place of the dumplings. Two probs with the dumplings, 1.) I didn’t have whole milk so I used skim and 2.) I don’t think I cooked them long enough. I found them to be soggy and kind of gross. BA says to simmer them for 5 minutes but I think 10 minutes would have been a more appropriate time for firmer dumplings. If you insist on cooking the dumplings, here’s what you’ll need:
Whisk flour, baking powder, nutmeg, pepper, and 3/4 teaspoon of salt in a bowl. Beat in eggs and milk. The batter is supposed to be lumpy. Plop teaspoonfuls of the batter into barely simmering water. Let cook 5-10 minutes, until doubled in size and desired firmness is achieved. Remove and add to stew just before serving. Nice to know: The stew can be made in advance and kept in the fridge for up to 3 days (without dumplings added).
Chicken & Dumplings with Mushrooms
- 4 oz slab bacon, cut into lardon
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cut up chicken (2 legs, 2 thighs, 2 breasts – cut in half, and 2 wings)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 1/2 lb baby bella mushrooms
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1/2 cup white wine, divided
- 6 sprigs thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1. Heat dutch oven over medium heat and cook bacon until crisp. Remove bacon and transfer to a paper-towel lined plate. Reserve bacon fat left in dutch oven.
2. Fill a shallow bowl with flour and whisk in salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour mixture and cook over medium heat in reserved bacon fat, using same dutch oven. Work in batches until all skin of every chicken piece is crisped to a golden brown color, 12-15 minutes. Set aside for later use.
3. Pour 1/4 of a cup of the dry white wine into the dutch oven and scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Add mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook until browned, 5-8 minutes. Remove from pot and set aside. Add onion and garlic, stirring occasionally, and cook until onion is translucent, 5-8 minutes.
4. Add remaining wine to pot, simmer until thickened and reduced by half, 5-7 minutes. Add chicken, bacon, thyme, bay leaves, broth, and season again with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer, partially covering so steam is allowed to escape.
5. Cook for 2 1/2 hours, until chicken is falling off the bone. Add reserved mushrooms for final 10 minutes of cook time. Taste and season with more salt and pepper, if necessary.
6. For dumplings, whisk flour, baking powder, nutmeg, pepper, and 3/4 teaspoon of salt in a bowl. Beat in eggs and milk. The batter will be lumpy. Plop teaspoonfuls of the batter into a barely simmering pot of water. Let cook 5-10 minutes, until doubled in size and desired firmness is achieved. Remove and add to stew just before serving.