Classic chicken stew with thyme dumplings (Felcitiy Cloake)

Serves 4
1 medium chicken, jointed; or 2 breasts, 2 thighs, 2 drumsticks and 2 wings
Seasoned flour, to coat
A good knob of butter
200g smoked bacon lardons
2 leeks, washed and thickly sliced
1 bay leaf
150ml white wine
700ml good chicken stock
2 carrots, cut into chunks

For the dumplings
100g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
50g suet
2 tbsp thyme leaves, chopped

1 Remove the skin from the breasts and legs of the chicken, then dust with the seasoned flour.

2 Melt a generous knob of butter in a casserole dishover a medium-high heat, and brown the chicken in batches until golden. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.

3 Add the lardons to the pan and cook until golden brown and the fat has begun to melt. Stir in the leeks and soften for a couple of minutes, then add the bay leaf and the white wine and scrape the bottom of the pan to dislodge any brown bits. Cook for a couple of minutes, then return the chicken, pour in the stock and bring to a simmer. Cover, turn down the heat slightly, and cook for 1 hour. (You can make this up to two days in advance.)

4 Meanwhile, mix the dumpling ingredients with salt and pepper and just enough cold water to bring together into a dough (about 75ml). Shape into 6 balls with damp hands.

5 Add the carrots to the simmeringstew, and place the dumplings on top. Partially cover, then simmer for another 20 minutes. If you’d like the gravy to be thicker, put 1 tbsp cornflour in a jug, and whisk some gravy into it to make a smooth paste, then stir it back into the dish.

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