Chicken and Dumplings – Chef Mike Lata, FIG – Charleston, SC

Who wouldn’t love a bowl of steaming hot, homemade Chicken and Dumplings on a cold winter’s day?  Could there be anything more comforting than that?  If you have been sick with a bad cold, as I have for the past week, this dish was the ultimate in feel better and good for you food.

Any dish that includes chicken broth or chicken stock always makes you feel a bit more chipper when you are under the weather.  It is almost better than medicine.  I guess mother knew what she was talking about many years ago. 😉

Soul soothing comfort food

I was excited to see the new issue (February 2012) of Bon Appétit focused on Southern dishes and chefs.  We have worked with several of the chefs featured in this issue and their recipes caught my attention.  The first one I tried is from a chef in one of our favorite towns, Charleston, South Carolina.

I knew that a dish by Chef Mike Lata from FIG in Charleston would have to be good.  We met him last year and he shared his recipe for Coddled Sea Island Farm Egg with Stone Crab.  We have also dined at FIG and know what a talented chef Mike Lata is.  Needless to say, I was anxious to try his updated version of the classic Chicken and Dumplings.

This Chicken and Dumplings has ricotta and Parmesan gnocchi instead of traditional dumplings

This twist on an old-fashioned favorite was incredibly flavorful and reminiscent of an elegant chicken pot pie.  Chef Lata includes parsnips in the recipe to add a bit of sweetness to the dish.  He also cooks boneless, skinless chicken thighs in chicken broth to keep them moist and add a nice hearty flavor to the stew.

We enjoyed the ricotta and Parmesan gnocchi in place of traditional dumplings and the subtle infusion of those cheeses into the other wonderful flavors of the stew.  Topped with a shaving of a good Parmesan-Reggiano cheese and a garnish of chopped parsley and chives, I think Chicken and Dumplings has been elevated to a whole new level.  I would certainly serve this dish to company.

I love when recipes work as they should and this one did.  I did not need to add any additional seasonings to the final dish.  This recipe for Chicken and Dumplings from Chef Lata is a definitely a keeper.

The stew is even better the second day

Chicken and Dumplings

This recipe from Chef Mike Lata at FIG in Charleston, SC is the ultimate in comfort food. His updated version of a classic dish replaces traditional flour dumplings with ricotta and Parmesan gnocchi. I did not use all of the gnocchi, so I froze them to use at a later time.


Ingredients:

For Gnocchi:

1 pound ricotta (I prefer Calabro Part-Skim Ricotta)

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour plus more

1 large egg, beaten to blend

1 1/4 cups finely grated Parmesan

3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 tablespoon kosher salt


For Chicken and gravy:

10 cups low-salt chicken broth (I used Swanson's Organic Chicken Broth)

2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

6 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 celery stalks, cut crosswise into 1/4"-thick slices

1 carrot, peeled, thinly sliced

1 parsnip, peeled, cut into 1/4"-thick rounds

1 leek, halved lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1/4"-thick slices

1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

* Shaved Parmesan


Directions:

For gnocchi:

1. If using fresh ricotta that has excess liquid, you may need to drain it overnight. Line a fine-mesh strainer with cheesecloth and set it over a medium bowl. Add ricotta; cover with plastic wrap and let drain overnight in refrigerator. If using supermarket ricotta, proceed with recipe; no draining required.


2. Gently mix ricotta, 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour, egg, Parmesan, nutmeg, and salt in a large bowl just to blend (do not overwork). Form dough into a ball (it will be sticky); wrap in plastic and chill for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.


3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. Place dough on a lightly floured work surface. Divide dough into 4 equal portions and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Using your hands, roll 1 portion into a 1/2"-diameter rope; cut crosswise into 1/2"-thick pieces. Lightly dust gnocchi with flour and transfer to prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining portions of dough. Cover gnocchi with a kitchen towel and chill until ready to cook. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 months ahead. Freeze on sheets, then store, frozen, in an airtight container.


For chicken and gravy:

1. Bring broth to a boil in a large saucepan. Add chicken; reduce heat to low, cover, and gently simmer until chicken is tender and cooked through, 20–30 minutes. (* Be sure to skim off the foam that rises to the top of the broth as it boils.) Remove chicken; let cool slightly and shred into bite-size pieces. Bring broth to a boil and cook until reduced to 8 cups, about 15 minutes.


2. Meanwhile, melt butter in a small heavy saucepan over low heat. Whisk in flour until smooth and cook, whisking constantly, until roux is pale beige in color, about 15 minutes (do not brown).


3. Scrape roux into simmering broth; whisk until thickened and broth coats the back of a spoon. Reduce heat to low and add vegetables. Cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add shredded chicken and herbs. Season with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Chill, uncovered, until cold; cover and keep chilled. Rewarm before serving.


4. Cook gnocchi in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until gnocchi float to the surface, about 2 minutes (slightly longer if frozen). Using a slotted spoon, transfer gnocchi to bowls, dividing equally. Ladle chicken and vegetables with gravy over. Season with pepper and top with Parmesan.


Chef Mike Lata - FIG, Charleston, SC

Reprinted from Bon Appétit

February 2012