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Chicken Fricassee with Dumplings

A feathery green herb, dill is used frequently in Eastern European and Russian cooking, where it adds its distinctive aroma to all kinds of dishes, from chicken soup and marinated herring to dill pickles (flavored with dill seeds) and beet borscht. Here, dills refreshing flavor adds an extra dimension to fluffy dumplings in a dill-scented chicken stew.

Ingredients:

  • 3 lb. chicken thighs, legs and breasts
  • 1 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Salt, to taste, plus 1/2 tsp.
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 4 Tbs. olive oil
  • 4 leeks, white and light green portions,
     cleaned and thinly sliced
  • 2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 6 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 4 celery stalks, sliced
  • 2 red apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 3 Tbs. finely chopped fresh dill
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 1⁄3 cup cornmeal
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3 Tbs. chilled vegetable shortening
  • 1⁄2 to 1 cup milk, as needed

Directions:

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Place 1/4 cup of the flour in a large bowl or sealable plastic bag and season with salt and pepper. Add the chicken in batches and stir or shake to coat thoroughly with the seasoned flour.

In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm 3 Tbs. of the olive oil. Working in batches to avoid crowding, add the chicken and brown on all sides, 4 to 5 minutes per batch. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium and warm the remaining 1 Tbs. oil in the pot. Add the leeks and onions and sauté until lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the carrots, celery and apples and sauté until slightly softened, 3 to 5 minutes more. Add 2 Tbs. of the dill, the stock and apple juice and bring to a simmer. Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the pot, cover and cook until the chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear when a thigh is pierced with a knife, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, make the dumplings: In a bowl, stir together the remaining 1 1/4 cups flour, the cornmeal, baking powder, the 1/2 tsp. salt and the remaining 1 Tbs. dill. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in the shortening. Add the milk, stirring with a fork until the dough holds together in a rough mass.

Using an ice cream scoop, scoop up spoonfuls of the dumpling batter and arrange over the chicken in the simmering broth (you should have 6 to 8 dumplings). Cover and cook, spooning some of the broth over the dumplings once or twice, until a skewer inserted into a dumpling comes out clean, 15 to 18 minutes.

Ladle the stew into warmed bowls, dividing the chicken and dumplings among them. Serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Soup & Stew, by Diane Rossen Worthington (Simon & Schuster, 2004).