Chicken and Dumplings with Wild Mushrooms
Chicken and dumplings is a popular Southern comfort food. Give it a classy update with some wild mushrooms and slab bacon to create a mouthwatering fall supper.
I use four major species of wild mushrooms in this recipe.
Cortinarius caperatus, commonly known as Goat's Hat, and Laccaria amethystina, commonly known as Amethyst Deceiver, are used in this recipe.
Commonly known as Goat's Hat, this is an edible mushroom from the Cortinarius genus, which also contains some of the most poisonous fungi of Europe, so make sure you are sure of your ID. This particular species is found in northern regions of Europe and North America, appearing in autumn in coniferous and beech woods as well as heathlands in late summer and autumn. The ochre-colored cap is up to 10 cm (4 in) across and has a fibrous surface and the clay-colored gills are attached to the stipe under the cap. The stipe is whitish with a whitish ring. The specific epithet caperatus, means wrinkled, and refers to the distinctive texture of the cap, which starts as an ovoid shape, eventually straightening out and then turning up in old age. The flesh has a mild smell and flavor and is popular with mushroom foragers in central Europe.
Commonly known as the Amethyst Deceiver because its characteristic purple color doesn't last, this mushroom grows abundantly from July to November in coniferous and deciduous forests, either directly on moist soil, among leaves and moss, or from rotting branches and wood. It is a fairly small mushroom, but you can't miss it thanks to its color. It's an edible mushroom that is often passed over by many mushroom foragers, potentially because it is known to easily absorb toxic substances such as arsenic and cesium. However, it is safe to collect in environmentally friendly localities. I learned to forage for this mushroom from my grandmother and mother, who learned it from our longtime summer house neighbor and forest ranger. Only the caps are good—the stems are too tough. During cooking, it somewhat retains its purple color, which makes it a colorful addition to soups, sauces, or pickled mushroom jars.
Craterellus tubaeformis, commonly known as the Yellowfoot Chanterelle, and Boletus edulis, commonly known as the King Bolete or Porcini, are used in this recipe.
Commonly known as the Yellowfoot Chanterelle, this is one of the most delicious mushrooms out there and it is perfect for stews and soups. To learn more about it, check out the write-up in my recipe for Yellowfoot Chanterelle Goulash.
Commonly known as the King Bolete or Porcini, this is probably one of the most well-known wild mushrooms, sought after by many chefs. Learn more about it in the write-up in my recipe for Porcini Mushroom Risotto.
Chicken and Dumplings with Wild Mushrooms
Chicken and dumplings is a popular Southern comfort food. It consists of chicken cooked in liquid and dumplings made by dropping the dough into boiling water. Some sources say this dish was born in the American South during the Depression since it was a quick and easy way to stretch meager scraps into a meal for a family. However, the truth is that dumplings have been around for centuries and are featured in many world cuisines, each having its own variation. The two ingredients that are essential in any dumpling are flour and some liquid—then, based on the variation, the dough can include milk, shortening, eggs, herbs, or potatoes.
In the Czech Republic, dumplings are a staple. We have many kinds of dumplings: flour dumplings, potato dumplings, yeasted dumplings, Carlsbad dumplings, soup dumplings, sweet dumplings, filled dumplings, hairy dumplings (made from raw, grated potatoes that make them look "hairy"), and so on and on. Czech cuisine is big on dumplings and we have different names for them, which cannot be easily translated into English. Technically, this particular dumpling in this recipe would be more accurately translated as soup gnocchi, because it's boiled individually, as opposed to a larger log that is sliced into individual dumplings and it's served in liquid—except Italian gnocchi have potatoes in them and these "dumplings" don't. Anyway, this could get complicated real quick, so I'll stop right here and we'll go with dumpling!
This recipe gives the traditional chicken and dumplings a classy update with some wild mushrooms and slab bacon, creating a mouthwatering fall supper. Tender chicken meat and soft dumplings are swimming in rich, bacon-flavored broth along with wild mushrooms. Yum!
Instead of foraged mushrooms (see Wild Mushrooms above), you can use store-bought mushrooms like white buttons, portobello, or shiitake.
Please be extremely careful cooking and eating foraged mushrooms. Never eat a mushroom that you are not 100% sure of its ID. The best way to learn how to identify and forage for edible mushrooms in your area is to join a local mushroom club or go with a trusted mushroom identifier or a mycologist. Then, even if you are 100% sure of its ID and know it's an edible mushroom, always try small quantities of a new mushroom first before eating a large batch to make sure it sits with you well.
In addition to the four major species of mushrooms (Cortinarius caperatus, Boletus edulis, Craterellus tubaeformis, and Laccaria amethystina), I've also used one Suillus variegatus and Imleria badia. You can see them in the middle of the bowl.
- 170 g (6 oz) slab of bacon, diced
- 1 medium onion
- 750 g chicken thigh meat or 4 chicken legs
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 750g wild mushrooms (roughly chopped)
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1/3 cup white wine
- 6 springs thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 allspice berries
- 6 cups chicken stock
- ¾ teaspoon salt, plus more
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- ⅛ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tbsp butter
- ¼ cup whole milk
- Crisp bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and sauté for 4-5 minutes until slightly caramelized. Transfer bacon and onion mixture into a bowl, leaving some bacon fat behind.
- Season chicken with salt and pepper. Working in batches, cook chicken in same pot over medium heat until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes per side. (If using chicken legs, cook skin side down for 12–15 minutes without turning until crispy and deep golden brown.) Transfer to a plate.
- Add mushrooms to the pot, season with salt and pepper, and sauté, stirring occasionally, until liquid has evaporated. Add 5 cloves worth of pressed garlic to pot; cook for 1 minute, stirring occasionally.
- Add 1/3 cup wine to pot and simmer until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Return the chicken, bacon and onion mixture back to the pot. Add 6 sprigs of thyme, 2 bay leaves, 3 allspice berries, and 6 cups of chicken stock; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and gently simmer for 30 minutes, partially covered, stirring occasionally.
- Meanwhile, prepare dumplings. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Whisk 1 cup flour, 2 tsp baking powder, ½ tsp nutmeg, ⅛ tsp pepper, and ¾ tsp salt in a medium bowl. Whisk in 2 eggs, ¼ cup milk and 1 tbsp butter (batter will be slightly lumpy).
- Reduce heat but make sure the water is at a strong simmer. Drop tablespoonfuls of batter into water; cook until dumpling are cooked through and doubled in size, about 5 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon.
- Remove thyme sprigs, bay leaves, and old spice from the stew. Add dumplings to the stew just before serving. Enjoy!
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