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The Taming of the Stew: Ol’Fashioned Herbed Chicken and Dumpling Stew

March 4, 2012

Petruchio: Here, take away this dish.
Kate: I pray you, let it stand!

The Taming of the Shrew.

Old fashioned, WASPy comfort food isn’t usually my thing. Affordable, easy-to-store, one dish dinners are always my thing. And stew fits perfectly in both categories. But how to make it delicious? I remember loving the chicken dumpling stew my mom made as a kid, so I figured that was a good place to start. Next, I followed the advice of my two favourite food boyfriends: Jamie Oliver and Mark Bittman. Jamie Oliver makes a mean lemon-herb roasted chicken so I thought I’d follow him for the protein. Then, in last week’s NYT magazine, Mark Bittman wrote (re: Cassoulet): “When making traditional dishes, it’s important to remember that the people who ‘invented’ them just used what they had…liberties shouldn’t be viewed as inadequacies.” Stew is about making use of the vegetables you have on hand and packing in as much flavour as you want, so I went full-out and threw in: garlic, shallots, celery, carrots, mushrooms, parsnips, white sweet potatoes, peas, corn and a whole lot of herbs and spices. (Needless to say, you can and should improvise too!)

I won’t say “THIS AIN’T YOUR GRANDMA’S CHICKEN STEW!” because there’s nothing terribly postmodern about my take on it. But you know what? YOUR GRANDMA MADE GOOD FOOD SOMETIMES (at least mine did). So eat it. It’s good for you.

[Tip: You’ll be cooking chicken, broth and vegetables at the same time, and prepping dumplings at some point too. Don’t stress out if you’re having trouble keeping an eye on everything at the same time. You can always set the chicken aside, or leave the stew simmering awhile longer than necessary. No catastrophes will result!]

  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 1 medium white sweet potato
  • 1 medium parsnip
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 3-4 medium white mushrooms
  • 2 shallots
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 7oz can of corn niblets
  • 1 32ox box of chicken stock (or approximate)
  • 2 good handfuls of fresh parsley
  • dried thyme
  • dried oregano
  • cayenne
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar (optional)


  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tsps baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp softened butter or margarine
  • 3/4 cup of milk
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Chop up 2 garlic cloves and approximately 2 tbsps parsley and combine in a small bowl with 1/2 tsp thyme and 1/2 tsp oregano (and a little fresh or dry tarragon if you choose). Using a small paring knife, separate some of the skin from the chicken thighs to make a small pocket. Stuff 1/4 of your herb and garlic mixture into the pocket on each thigh. Cut 4 small lemon wedges and place these between the skin and meat also. Sprinkle the chicken with a little salt and pepper and put in the oven until cooked (about 30-45 minutes?). Keep an eye on it, and if it’s ready before step 5 comes along, just set it aside. Alternately, you may have to wait a while between steps 4 and 5, depending on your speed.
  3. While the chicken is cooking put the stock in a medium-large pot on the stove with about 5 cups of water. I add in a little cider vinegar and lemon at this stage. Then start chopping up all your vegetables. Toss the parsley stems, carrot and potato peels, shallot peels etc. into the stock. This will add some flavour. Just make sure the pieces are big enough that you can easily fish them out with a slotted spoon later on.
  4. Warm a couple tablespoons of olive oil In a large pot. Add garlic and shallots and cook a couple minutes. Then add celery, mushrooms, 1 tsp thyme, 1 tsp oregano, 1 tsp cayenne and 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley. Cook a couple minutes, stirring frequently. Add carrots, sweet potatoes, parsnips or any other root vegetables you’re using. Cook 2 minutes. Meanwhile, remove extra peels, stems etc. from stock. Add pure stock to your large pot of simmering vegetables. Turn up to a gentle boil. Add peas (frozen or thawed) and corn. Leave it at this temperature until the root vegetables are soft, then turn down to a simmer.
  5. When chicken is cooked, remove skin and discard lemon. Slice meat off chicken and into approximately 1 inch pieces. Add this to your vegetables and broth. Let them cook together for at least 10 minutes. Turn it back up to a gentle boil before putting dumplings in –>
  6. Dumplings: Now combine flour, salt and baking powder in small bowl. Add softened butter and mix together until dough looks like course crumbs. Add milk and stir. Place rounded tablespoons of dough into gently boiling stew. Allow to cook 10 minutes uncovered.
  7. Garnish with salt, pepper and extra parsley.
 Makes about 5 servings.
One Comment leave one →
  1. Allen permalink
    March 10, 2012 3:09 pm

    Delicious, I might just try the stew this weekend, and save the chicken to try out sometime during the week!

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