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This chicken and dumplings recipe takes homemade chicken soup from good to great

Addie Broyles
abroyles@statesman.com
By using chicken thighs and wings you can make a savory bowl of chicken and dumplings. [Contributed by Daniel J. van Ackere]

The bright purple blooms of the Texas mountain laurels might have announced the arrival of spring in Central Texas, but these recent cold fronts have reminded us that we still have plenty of cool weather left. When it's blustery outside, chicken and dumplings is one of the dishes I crave.

My grandma, mom and sister all make great chicken and dumplings. I make more of a chicken soup with rolled-out noodles. This recipe, however, from Cook's Illustrated has me reconsidering how I make the soup, period. They use chicken wings and chicken thighs to add more flavor and collagen, which thickens the broth. The trick with the towel under the lid makes a big difference, too.

Lighter Chicken and Dumplings

You can substitute 1/2 cup of plain yogurt thinned with 1/4 cup of milk for the buttermilk, if desired. To include white meat (and lose a bit of flavor in the process), replace two chicken thighs with two 6-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts; brown the breasts along with the thighs and remove them from the stew once they register 160 degrees, 20 to 30 minutes. The collagen in the wings helps thicken the stew; do not omit them. Wrapping the lid in a dish towel will collect the condensation so it doesn't fall back on the dumplings and make them soggy.

— America's Test Kitchen

For the stew:

2 1/2 pounds bone-in chicken thighs, trimmed

Salt and pepper

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

2 small onions, chopped fine

2 carrots, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces

1 celery rib, minced

1/4 cup dry sherry

6 cups chicken broth

1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme

1 pound chicken wings, trimmed

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

For the dumplings:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 cup buttermilk, chilled

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and hot

1 large egg white

For the stew: Pat thighs dry with paper towels and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add thighs, skin side down, and cook until skin is well browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Using tongs, flip thighs and brown second side, 5 to 7 minutes longer; transfer to large plate. Pour off all but 1 teaspoon fat from pot.

Add onions, carrots and celery to pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, 7 to 9 minutes. Stir in sherry, scraping up any browned bits. Stir in broth and thyme. Return thighs and any accumulated juices to pot and add wings. Bring to simmer, cover, and cook until thigh meat offers no resistance when poked with tip of paring knife but still clings to bones, 45 to 55 minutes.

Remove pot from heat and transfer chicken to cutting board. Let broth settle for 5 minutes, then skim fat from surface. When chicken is cool enough to handle, remove skin. Using your fingers, pull meat from thighs and, if desired, wings and cut into 1-inch pieces. Return meat to pot and bring stew to simmer over low heat.

For the dumplings: Whisk flour, sugar, salt and baking soda together in large bowl. Combine buttermilk and melted butter in medium bowl, stirring until butter forms small clumps; whisk in egg white. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture and stir with rubber spatula until just incorporated and batter pulls away from sides of bowl.

Stir parsley into stew and season with salt and pepper to taste. Using greased 1-tablespoon measure or scoop, drop level scoops of batter over top of stew, spacing them about 1/4-inch apart (you should have about 24 dumplings). Wrap lid of pot with clean dish towel (keeping towel away from heat source) and cover pot. Simmer gently until dumplings have doubled in size and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 13 to 16 minutes. Serve immediately. Serves 6.

— From "Cook's Illustrated Revolutionary Recipes: Groundbreaking techniques. Compelling voices. One-of-a-kind recipes." by America's Test Kitchen (Cook's Illustrated, $45)