I’m home from a week chasing the leaves and breaking in my knit hat in Maine. I left New Orleans, sweating through a sweater and found myself in a red, orange, and yellow actual autumn wonderland up north.
Whenever I come home from a trip, which feels like a lot this year, I feel a big, open-hearted drive to nest and settle. I water the houseplants… those poor things are troopers. I usually hustle out the Instant Pot and make a batch of beans. I jar the kombucha… or think about it. I feed Tron because he’s surely yelling about snacks. I re-up my kitchen altar. Refill the seed cycling balls and settle on a cozy cozy recipe to make and enjoy all week. It’s all in an effort to get grounded at home. A hot batch of something always does the work.
This week I’m filling my dutch oven with chicken and dumplings but because October is upon us we’ve got to pumpkin sooooomething. Let’s pumpkin these dumplings! What do ya say?
Here’s what we’ll need:
• Stew starter veggies like onion, celery, carrots, and garlic.
• Boneless skinless chicken thighs, or whatever cut you’d like.
• Dried thyme, salt and pepper.
• Chicken broth and finishing greens like peas and parsley.
• Flour, baking powder, salt, egg, pumpkin puree, butter and buttermilk for the dumpling. * These dumplings also work really well substituting a gluten-free flour blend!
Start by generously seasoning the chicken thighs with salt and pepper.
We’re going to pan fry the chicken so leave it at room temperature for about 30 minutes so we’re not pan trying it from fridge-cold.
Brown each piece of chicken on both side in hot olive oil. There’s no need to worry about cooking the chicken all the way through, it will simmer later in the stew.
Set the browned chicken aside and add the vegetables to olive oil. Stir up any browned bits of chicken from the bottom of the pan as the vegetables soften.
With the vegetables softened, add the chicken back to the pan, along with a bay leaf.
Add the chicken broth and let the stew simmer to cook the chicken through and incorporate the ingredients.
Spoiler alert: everything smells amazing right now!
While the stew cooks we can assemble the dumplings. Think of these as little drop biscuits that will cook and float as they simmer in the stew.
My first past at typing ‘biscuits’ here came out as ‘bizcuits’ and I really should have left it. My soul was on to something.
Start with flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, and a dash of dried thyme. Add cold butter, just a bit, and using fingers, break the butter down into the dry ingredients.
In a small bowl whisk together the egg, buttermilk, and pumpkin puree.
We’ll add the wet ingredients directly to the flour mixture and stir so a soft, wet dough.
I used an ice cream / cookie scoop to dollop the dumpling dough into the hot stew.
Cover the pot and allow the mixture to come to a simmer – cooking the dumplings in the stew itself.
The dumplings will puff together to pleasingly plump. You’ll know it when you see it.
Serve warm and hearty with a dumpling or two in each bowl. It’s just as satisfying as your heart is telling you.
Other cozy recipes you might enjoy this time of year: