This post is dedicated to Bahar, who has been asking for this for a month.
I know that's not the most beautiful food picture in the world, but chicken and dumplings is so freaking good no matter how frumpy it looks.
You can't dress it up and make it pretty (if you can, please tell me how you manage it), but it is exactly what you want in simmering away on your stovetop when it's blustery outside and the world is complicated and you need something simple and soulful and warm. You want this.
Just trust me and make this, ok?
I started by melting 6-8 tablespoons of grass-fed butter in my dutch oven, which I'm madly in love with (it's a Lodge, for those who may be curious). Then I added one chopped onion, two sliced leeks (white parts only), four garlic cloves and a dash of salt and pepper. And, because I can't help myself, a shake of red chili pepper.
I let that soften and cook down for five or so minutes, then added six tablespoons of all-purpose flour and stirred it around to let it cook. I forgot this part once, and just sauteed the vegetables in olive oil, and it was fine, but very thin.
Next, a quarter cup of red wine (we had some Malbec open, so that's what I used). After that cooked off, I added a quarter cup of whole milk and four and a half cups of low-sodium chicken stock. Then I added two chopped up carrots (I left the peel on because nutrition), two chicken breasts cut into bite-sized pieces (using thigh meat here will not be discouraged), a few bay leaves and some dried thyme. And more salt and pepper, of course.
Then I put the lid on and let it simmer away for about forty minutes.
At that point, I was ready to make the dumplings. Two cups of flour, one cup of buttermilk (or one cup of milk with one tablespoon of white vinegar, set out until it curdles), one tablespoon of baking powder, a pinch of salt and three tablespoons of butter (I ran out of butter tonight and used shortening because randomly it was what we had, and it was fine, but I'd prefer butter).
I've infused the buttermilk before with fresh rosemary, and if you have some in the house, you won't regret using it here.
Warm the buttermilk and butter in the microwave until the butter is soft enough to mix easily with the dry ingredients (but don't cook it - I just zap mine for thirty seconds or thereabouts). Use a wooden spoon to incorporate everything.
Once you have a batter, use two spoons to loosely shape the dumplings and drop them in the stew. Before I added them, I put in one pound of fresh baby spinach, about one cup of frozen peas, and a few sprigs of tarragon. Gave that a good stir and then dropped my dumplings on top.
Put the lid back on and let simmer for another ten to fifteen minutes until the dumplings are cooked through. Ladle into a bowl and know that everything is right, right now.