What could be better than warm, hearty, chicken and dumplings? It’s simple comfort food at its finest, but this version from John Currence’s Pickles, Pigs, and Whiskey is something so much more than the original. This rendition is velvety and creamy while still remaining bright. And the dumplings aren’t just dumplings, they are spinach – ricotta gnudi. Never heard of gnudi? Yeah, me neither. But trust me it will soon become a staple in your home.
This chicken stew is good, but the gnudi is something else all together. They are by far the star of this dish. I want to have these with everything. They are going to become my new go to side. And you could easily use this recipe as a base and take the flavors in a bunch of different directions. Imagine these with brown butter and sage, or with a little goat cheese mixed in along with the ricotta. Seriously, if this dish doesn’t really sound like it’s up your alley, just make the gnudi, you will not regret it.
But really you should just go all in and make the whole things, because while the gnudi may be my new obsession, they have a seriously good home in this stew. And while you are enjoying this modern twist on a southern classic and waxing poetic about your new favorite side what are you drinking? I went with a California Pinot Noir. There is enough fruit to standup to the flavors in this dish and the earthiness of the herbs and vegetables in the sauce play nicely with the earth of the pinot. Plus that little hit of acidy on the end helps cut through some of the richness of the gnudi.
Adapted from Pickles, Pigs, and Whiskey
- 1 (3-4 pound) chicken
- ¾ cup roughly chopped yellow onions plus ½ cup small-dice yellow onions
- 1 tsp minced garlic plus 2 tsp finely minced garlic
- 1 cup peeled roughly chopped carrots
- 1 cup roughly chopped celery plus 1 cup small dice celery
- 2 tsp black peppercorns
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 8 sprigs fresh tarragon plus ¼ cup chopped fresh tarragon for garnish.
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- ¼ cup small dice fennel bulb
- 3 tablespoons dry vermouth
- ¼ cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound whole-milk ricotta cheese
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup finely grated parmesan cheese
- ¾ cup all purpose flour plus more for dusting
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tbs freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- pinch of cayenne
- ¾ cup wilted spinach, squeezed very dry and very finely chopped
- 3 tbs unsalted butter
- In a mixer blend together the eggs, Parmesan, flour, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cayenne. Once they are combined mix in the ricotta and spinach and continue to blend until the mixture is smooth.
- Scoop out 2-teaspoon sized portions. This is going to be a little sticky so I found it was easiest to have some flour on the cutting board and on your hand to roll and shape them. Either way you want to make sure they are fully coated with flour. Line up your dumplings on a backing sheet or plate so that you can refrigerate until ready to use. These can actually be made up to a day a head.
- In a medium sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the gnudi and sear them until lightly browned all over, about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Note: I was lazy and used store bought ricotta, but if you are feeling adventurous you could definitely make your own. If you have never done that before it might sound a little intimidating but it is actually incredibly easy and 100 times better than anything I have ever bought in the store. If you choose to go this way I would just make sure to let the ricotta drain for an extra long time, you want it to be pretty firm and dry for this recipe.
- For the Stew: Place your chicken, I made sure the legs on mine were tied because this ensures more even cooking, in a large soup pan. Throw in the onions, minced garlic, chopped carrots, roughly chopped celery, black peppercorns, bay leaves, tarragon (Include both the chopped tarragon and the sprigs), and thyme sprigs. Cover everything with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Once it boils decrease the heat to low and cover, and simmer for 45 min.
- Remove the pot from the heat and let it cool slightly. Pull the chicken out and place on a plate to the side to further cool so you can pull the chicken off the bone. Strain the stock and discard the solids. Once the chicken has cooled discard the skin and pick the meat from the bones and chop or shred into somewhat fine pieces.
- In a heavy bottomed pot melt the butter over low heat. Whisk in the flour and stir to make a roux. Once it begins to smell nutty add the diced onion, finely minced garlic, the diced celery, and fennel. Increase the heat to medium and cook until the vegetables soften, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken, vermouth, thyme leaves, and parsley and stir to combine. Add 6 cups of the reserved chicken stock and bring everything to a simmer. After a minute or two the sauce will begin to thicken, stir constantly until the stew reaches your desired consistency. You can add a little more stock, ½ cup at a time if you feel it needs it. The stew should be thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. Season the stew with a little bit of salt and black pepper and I personally like a little pinch of cayenne pepper.
- To serve ladle the stew over the top of your sautéed gnudi and garnish with a sprinkle of chopped tarragon.