Over the 30 years that I've lived in the United States, I still haven't tried American chicken and dumplings. When I saw a few posts from fellow foodies, I was curious about this traditional comfort food. After reading some recipes, I found some similarities to my rural hometown's dough soup. I know its name is not fancy but we always looked forward to when my mother made it. She made it whenever we had plenty of bok choy sprouts before my dad started replanting them. The smell of fresh chicken broth, the sweet taste of tender greens and the dough that kept us full all day bring back so many memories. We didn't have much when we were growing up and this was my childhood comfort food during all those chilly winters in China.
I had made it few times for my boys to experience one of my comfort dishes. They found it too doughy but really enjoyed the soup and the greens. So, I decided to remake it based on their tastes, adding the lard and buttermilk from the American dumpling recipe. It was a success — the softer dough yields dumplings that are flavorful and pillowy. Here I share this fusion version of a favorite comfort dish with you.
Chicken and Dumplings
with a Twist
For the broth:
2 pounds chicken bones or ½ whole chicken, quartered
4 quarts water
5 slices fresh ginger
For the dumplings:
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/3 cup room temperature lard (preferably homemade) or vegetable shortening
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup warm milk
For the soup:
1 cup minced or diced raw chicken, white or dark meat
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon soy sauce
3 handfuls tender greens, such as baby bok choy, mustard greens, pea shoots or baby spinach
Salt and white pepper to taste
First, add the soy sauce and teaspoon of cornstarch to the chopped chicken and set it aside to marinate.
Next, make the broth. In a large pot, boil the chicken bones and ginger with water for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat, skim any fat or scum floating on the top, cover and let it simmer for 40 minutes or more.
While the broth is cooking, make the dumplings. In a mixing bowl, whisk the flour, cornstarch, salt and baking powder. Add the lard or shortening, mixing it in with a fork until it's a sandy texture. Mix in the warm milk ¼ cup at a time until it forms a soft dough, adding a little more if the dough feels stiff. Set the dough aside and let it rest for at least 20 minutes. On a well-floured cutting board, roll the rested dough out to about ¼-inch thickness. Cut it into short strips or any shape you like. Once the broth is ready, strain the bones using a metal colander. Add the marinated meat to the broth and bring it to a boil again. Add the dumplings to the boiling pot and cook for 10 minutes. Add the greens, cooking for about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into a bowl and enjoy.
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