Recipe: Stick-to-the-Ribs Chicken Stew with Butternut Dumplings

Seasonal butternut squash gives these dumplings a lovely golden hue, and adds vitamin A and fiber.

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Mmmm, chicken and dumplings. It’s a big bowl of comfort food: fluffy, soft dumplings that float atop a stick-to-the-ribs chicken stew bubbling underneath.

If you don’t have a Southern grandmother, you may not have made or even tasted a homemade dumpling. So here’s a primer: A dumpling is rather like a biscuit, but it doesn’t get crispy and golden on top. Instead these little floating breads cook quickly in a covered pot from the heat of the steaming stew underneath. And since they soak up the flavor of the chicken broth, veggies and seasonings, they are super savory and delicious.

To keep this recipe on the healthy side, you use whole-wheat flour, which fortifies the dumplings with nutrition and hearty taste. A whipped egg white is added to the dough to provide extra leavening and to keep the whole-grain dough from being leaden.

Seasonal butternut squash gives these dumplings a lovely golden hue, and adds vitamin A and fiber.

Now, for the chicken part of your chicken and dumplings: To keep this easy meal to about 45 minutes of cooking, you won’t be stewing a whole chicken, as your grandmother probably did. (Shhh — don’t tell her!) Instead, chicken breast tenders are cooked in a quick saute. But thanks to the addition of a little white wine, the flavor still tastes slow-cooked.

This comfort food dish is impressive enough for any dinner party — and may even impress Grandmother.

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Chicken and Butternut Dumplings

Yield: 4 servings

Chicken ingredients:

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 medium-size yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)

1 medium carrot, chopped

1 celery rib, chopped

8-ounce package white button mushrooms, sliced

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast tenders, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 cup white wine

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped (or 1/2 teaspoon dried leaves, crushed)

1 bay leaf

2 1/2 cups (20 ounces) reduced-sodium, fat-free chicken broth

1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste

Dumpling ingredients:

1/2 cup whole-wheat flour

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into cubes

2 tablespoons milk (whole milk or reduced-fat 2%)

1 egg white, whipped until frothy with a fork

1/2 cup cooked, pureed butternut squash* (or canned pumpkin puree)

Directions:

In a 12-inch skillet, heat oil and saute onion, celery and carrot over medium-high heat 5 minutes. Push veggies to side of skillet and add mushroom; saute 5 minutes. Push mushrooms to side of skillet and add chicken.

Cook chicken 3 minutes without stirring, to allow to brown on one side; saute for 3 to 5 minutes more, allowing all sides of chicken pieces to cook.

Add white wine, thyme, bay leaf; cook 2 to 3 minutes until most of wine is evaporated, scraping up any dark bits of from the bottom of the pan. Add broth and salt and pepper to taste. Cover skillet with a lid (or a large baking sheet if you don’t have a lid) and simmer over medium-low heat for 10 minutes.

While chicken simmers, make dumpling dough: In a large bowl, combine flours, baking powder and salt. With two knives or a pastry blender, cut butter into flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal.

In a small bowl, combine milk, egg white and butternut squash; pour into flour-butter mixture and mix just until moist.

Uncover chicken skillet and drop dumpling dough by rounded tablespoon to cover hot chicken and vegetables. Cover skillet and cook on medium heat for 12 to 15 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted into dumplings comes out clean. (Do not lift lid during first 12 minutes of cooking, so dumplings can steam!)

Per serving (1/4 of recipe): Calories 360; Fat 13 g (Saturated 5 g); Sodium 522 mg; Carbohydrate 26 g; Fiber 4 g; Sugars 4 g; Protein 36 g

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Inspired to make your comfort food favorites? Up the ante and try these fun recipes:

Serena Ball, M.S., R.D., is a registered dietitian nutritionist. She blogs at TeaspoonOfSpice.com, sharing tips and tricks to help readers find cooking shortcuts for making homemade, healthy and delicious meals. Her recipes are created with families in mind.

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