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Chicken and Dumplings

Ingredients

1 pound medium baking potatoes, preferably russets, scrubbed
2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp grated nutmeg
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 pound), halved
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 1 pound)
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp canola or other vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
One 12-ounce bottle beer, preferably an amber lager
2 tsp fresh thyme
2 tsp minced fresh sage
2 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1 Tbsp cornstarch

Instructions:

Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook until tender when pierced with a fork, about 40 minutes. Drain and cool just until you can handle them. Slip the skins off with your fingers or a paring knife, and then press the potatoes through a potato ricer into a large bowl. Stir in 1 teaspoon of the salt and the nutmeg, and then set aside.

Season the chicken breasts and thighs with the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper. Heat a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Swirl in the oil, and then add the chicken breasts to brown them, about a minute per side, turning them with tongs or a spatula. (If you shake the pan immediately after they've gone in, they won't stick.) Transfer the breasts to a platter and add the thighs to the pan. Brown them, about a minute per side, then transfer to the platter with the chicken breasts. Tent with foil to keep warm.

Add the onion, celery, and carrots to the pan. Cook until soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Sprinkle the 1 tablespoon flour over the entire mixture; cook for 15 seconds, stirring constantly.

Whisk in the beer, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan; continue whisking until the mixture thickens, about a minute. Stir in the thyme and sage, then the stock and bay leaf. Let the sauce come to a simmer, then add the chicken breasts and thighs along with any accumulated juices. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, gently stir the 1/3 cup flour and the cornstarch into the potatoes with a wooden spoon just until smooth. Do not beat.

Discard the bay leaf from the stew. Scoop up scant 1/4 cups of the potato mixture and lay them on top of the stew. Do not cover the stew completely with dumplings -- rather, let them sit like clouds on its surface. Cover and steam the dumplings for 10 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes, then serve.



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