A Warm and Cozy Saturday Night

It was a nice Saturday night where we had nowhere to go.  We decided to go all out and do dinner which we actually ate at our dinner table.  We had a nice green salad with heirloom tomatoes and walnuts dressed in a fig-balsamic vinaigrette.  We even had a nice Chardonnay which J picked up during his camping trip with June and Muffin in Sonoma.

For the entree, we took advantage of Oakland’s cool nights and made a nice hearty chicken stew with cornmeal dumplings.  Regard this more as a set of guidelines than a specific recipe.  I’ve been making chicken stew for a while as it combines the elements of a nice roast chicken – the leftover meat and the stock you make from the carcass. The fun thing is to add any vegetable you like.

Chicken stew with cornmeal dumplings

1 medium yellow onions, chopped

2 carrots coarsely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped

3 sticks of celery chopped

5 small Yukon gold potatoes, quartered

You can also added chunks of butternut squash, zucchini, or any other root vegetable that strikes your fancy)

1 tablespoon of chopped rosemary, thyme, parsely or any combination thereof

1/4 cup of flour

1 cup of white wine

4 cups of chicken stock

3 cups of chicken, cubed

2 cups of frozen peas

The dumplings:

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
2/3 cup well-shaken buttermilk

Saute first five ingredients in 2 tablespoons of butter for about 20 minutes until the onions are translucent and the potatoes and carrots are tender but not soft.  Add the flour and satue a minute.  Add the white wine to deglaze the pan and stir vigorously to thicken the white wine. Once the flour and wine are fully incorporated, add the chicken stock.  Bring to a nice simmer and then add the chicken.  Turn the flame down to low.

To make the dumplings, put all of the dry ingredients and the butter ina food processor (or you can use a pastry cutter).  Process the mixture until you get coarse crumbs.  Add the buttermilk and then drop medium size spoonfuls of the dumpling batter into the simmering stew.  Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes until the dumplings are cook through (they should feel dry at the top).

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