When cooking in a secluded cabin in the woods, a chef must be content with improvisation. This dish began as chicken pot pie, but upon discovering that a fully stocked cabin kitchen doesn’t necessarily include an oven-proof baking dish, I resolved to switch pot pie for a stove-top version of chicken and dumplings. Without the essential baking powder in my limited pantry, the dumplings posed another problem. My culinary training to the rescue – milk, check. Butter, check. Flour and salt, check. Eggs, check. Pate a choux dumplings! The resulting dish is rich, satisfying, homey, and the perfect accompaniment to a stay in a cozy cabin.
Chicken and Choux Dumplings
Here’s a recipe where my culinary improvisation went completely right
- ½ cup whole milk
- 2 oz. unsalted butter
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup flour + 2 Tablespoons
- 2 large eggs
- 2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan
- 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite size pieces
- 2 celery stalks, finely diced
- 1 carrot, finely diced
- ½ small onion, finely diced
- 1 cup crimini mushrooms, sliced
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 2 – 2 ½ cups chicken broth
- Simmer together milk, butter and salt until butter is fully melted, but mixture has not come to a boil. Add ½ cup flour and stir until flour is fully incorporated and dough pulls away from the sides of the pan. Cool dough in pan by running the sides of the pan under cold water. Beat in eggs one at a time. Stir in Parmesan. Set aside. Heat a small saucepan with 2 cups water until boiling.
- Season chicken with salt and pepper. Sauté chicken in a bit of oil in a large skillet until brown and cooked through. Remove chicken and add celery, carrot, and onion. Sauté until softened. Add mushrooms and sauté until mushrooms have softened. Add peas and cook until vegetables are beginning to brown. Add vegetables to chicken. Add a bit more oil to pan and add 2 Tablespoons flour. Stir until flour is golden brown and bubbly. Add broth and cook until slightly thickened. Return chicken, vegetables and accumulated juices to skillet, reduce heat and simmer until heated through. Season with salt and pepper.
- Meanwhile, drop small teaspoons of dough into boiling water. Remove dumplings when they have risen to the top of the water. Drain on paper towels. To serve, ladle chicken into bowls and garnish with two or three warm dumplings.