Guest Author - Sandie Jarrett
Chicken and dumplings is one of those comfort foods that almost everyone loves. Tender, moist white meat chicken, colorful vegetables and a savory broth topped with light as a feather dumplings – how can you go wrong?
My version, with a Cajun twist, is a variation on the original, which not only takes too long to prepare but is a little too soupy for my taste. A light sprinkling of my 'signature' Cajun Chicken Seasoning, made by combining my Cajun Dry Rub Seasoning and my Classic Poultry Seasoning, spike it up just enough to add flavor, not heat. As always, for best flavor, remember to season to taste!
Serves 4 – 6
For the Chicken
3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1" X 1/2" pieces
Cajun Chicken Seasoning*
all purpose flour for dredging
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 cup bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 cup celery, coarsely chopped
1 cup carrots, coarsely chipped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Classic Poultry Seasoning*
1 cup petite peas (fresh or frozen)
1 tablespoon Italian parsley, minced
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cans (total of 28-32 oz) low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine or water
Lightly season chicken pieces with homemade Cajun chicken seasoning and a pinch of sea salt. Dredge lightly with flour.
Drizzle olive oil over the bottom of the Dutch oven and heat over medium high heat. Add the onions. Sauté until the onions are translucent. Add the bell pepper, celery, and carrots. Sauté the vegetables for 5 – 6 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 – 2 minutes more, taking care not to burn the garlic. Remove the vegetables from the Dutch oven and set aside.
Drizzle olive oil, if necessary, over the bottom of a heavy Dutch oven and heat over medium-high heat. Add the prepared chicken pieces in a single layer and sauté until golden in color. Carefully turn the chicken pieces over, sautéing until golden. Cook in 2 batches, if necessary.
Turn the heat down to medium and move chicken to one side of the Dutch oven. Deglaze the pan by slowly adding 1 can of chicken stock to the hot pan. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up any bits that have stuck to the pan. Add 1/2 cup white wine or water and the reserved vegetables; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Dissolve the cornstarch in the milk and add to the chicken mixture. Stir to blend and bring back to a boil. Add the remaining can of chicken stock, bring the mixture back to a boil then lower the heat to medium and cook until the chicken is just cooked. Taste and adjust seasonings, as necessary.
Meanwhile, prepare the dumplings, using the recipe below.
Adjust the heat to medium high and fold the peas in to the chicken simmering chicken mixture. When the chicken comes to a boil, drop the dumpling batter (see recipe below) in 1/4 cup portions into the hot chicken, distributing evenly. When the dumplings rise to the surface, lower the heat back down to medium. Allow to simmer and cook for 4 – 6 minutes or until the dumplings are cooked.
Ladle chicken mixture into wide soup or stew plates and top with a dumpling. Sprinkle with minced parsley and green onion, if desired.**
For the Dumplings
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk
3/4 teaspoon salt
pinch of cayenne pepper or white pepper
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 tablespoon Italian parsley, minced
1 tablespoon green onion (green part only), chopped
1-1/2 cups flour
Whisk together the milk and the egg in a medium size bowl. Add the salt and pepper, baking powder, parsley and green onion. Blend well. Stir in the flour. Set aside.
* For best flavor, make up a batch on Cajun Chicken Seasoning Blend. It has all the savory goodness of a classic poultry seasoning with just the right amount of Cajun heat. It is a combination of my Classic Poultry Seasoning and my Cajun Dry Rub Seasoning. See the link below for the recipes.
**For even cooking, trim or pound the chicken breasts so that the pieces are about the same thickness. Each piece should be 'bite' size, so that the diner does not need to cut before eating.
***The dumplings are very light and melt in your mouth. Try to scoop out a few dumplings and set aside, then scoop out the chicken mixture. Top with a dumpling. If you smoother the dumpling with the chicken and sauce, the dumpling will almost dissolve!