This version of chicken and dumplings borrows ingredients and methods from North American and Chinese traditions. The impetus for this creation came from a gift from our friend Nora: a huge bottle of chicken stock with a thick layer of schmaltz made by her cousin of Soi Number 9 (Memphis-area food truck serving authentic Thai cuisine).
Most North American chicken and dumpling recipes begin with boiling or poaching a whole chicken to make stock with the meat trimmed from the bone. With a fabulous source of stock on hand, I only needed chicken. I bought two pounds of boneless thighs because I prefer them over breast meat, but either will do here. If you don’t have stock, you could start with a whole chicken for this recipe.
I enjoy a warm bowl of North American chicken and dumplings as winter time comfort food, but most versions tend to be bland. I added common Chinese spices to add depth: garlic, ginger, star anise, whole cloves, and a touch of soy sauce. I also used a chopstick method from northeastern China to make dumplings similar to those made into dough lumps for Ga De Soup — a type of egg drop soup. In this version, I cut bits of frozen chicken schmaltz into the flour with salt and baking powder to make the ga de.
The above Chinese ingredients combined with familiar North American carrots and English peas made a memorable dish that sent Paul back for seconds (a rarity considering Paul’s dislike for any dish containing peas). The peas with the ginger, clove and star anise add a subtle sweetness to the dish. I garnished the dish with chopped scallions cut on the diagonal to add a crisp crunch.
Paul chose an Italian Soave from Inama Winery to drink with our Chinese Chicken and dumplings.
Chinese Chicken and Dumplings
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 pounds boneless chicken, chopped into bite size
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp black pepper, ground fresh
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 2 carrot, diced the size of a green pea)
- 3 Tbsp, fresh ginger, minced
- 6 garlic cloves
- 7 cups, chicken stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 piece of star anise
- 6 whole cloves
- 1 cup frozen English peas
- 6 scallions, chopped
- 1 Tbsp Tamari or other soy sauce
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 4-5 Tbsp rendered chicken fat (schmaltz), frozen
- 1 cup room temperature water
- Bring oil to a medium heat in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add chicken, salt and pepper. Stir periodically until evenly cooked. Remove chicken from pot. Leave about 2 Tbsp of fat in the pot.
- Add onion and carrot and sauté on medium low for about 5-7 minutes. Add garlic and ginger. Stir until fragrant.
- Return chicken to pot, add stock, and stir. Deglaze any fond from the sides and bottom of the pot.
- Tie bay leaf, star anise, and cloves with string inside a swath of cheesecloth for a bouquet garni. Add bouquet and peas to the pot. Increase heat to bring to a boil. Turn to low heat to simmer at least 15 minutes.
- While the stock simmers, combine flour, salt and baking powder into a large bowl. Whisk thoroughly. Cut chicken schmaltz into flour mixture until flour takes on a sandy texture. Add water in one quarter-cup increments and mix flour and water with chopsticks. Break dumplings into roughly equal size and add water until there is no flour dust.
- Remove bouquet from pot. Stir in Tamari or soy sauce.
- Add dumplings to simmering pot in 3-4 batches, stirring in between. Simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes or until largest dumplings become puffy and soft without being chewy.
- Serve in bowls with a garnish of fresh chopped scallions.