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Shortcut Chicken Stew with Fluffy Dumplings

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Ingredients

1 plain or salt-and-pepper rotisserie chicken

4 cups store-bought chicken stock

4 cups cold water

1 tablespoon butter

1 small onion, chopped (about 1 cup)

2 medium celery stalks, thinly sliced (about 1 ½ cups)

2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

2 cups self-rising flour

¼ cup butter, cut into small cubes and chilled

2 tablespoons vegetable shortening

¾ cup half-and-half

Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish (optional)

Directions

  1. Pull the meat from the chicken and tear it into large bite-sized pieces, reserving the bones and skin; cover and refrigerate until needed.
  2. Place the bones and skin in a large saucepan or small pot. Add the stock and cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the carcass falls apart and the liquid reduces to about 6 cups, about 45 minutes. Strain the broth into a clean bowl and discard the solids.
  3. Heat the butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, carrots, thyme, and a pinch of salt and stir to coat. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 8 minutes. Add the broth and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.
  4. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the chicken and keep warm overlow heat.
  5. To make the dumpling dough, place the flour in a medium bowl. Use a pastry blender or your fingertips to work in the butter and shortening until the mixture is crumbly and flecked with flakes of fat. When pressed against the back of a thumb, a bit of the mixture should cling like a small leaf. Slowly stir in the half-and-half. The dough should be soft and sticky but firm enough to hold together on a spoon.
  6. Bring the chicken stew to a low boil over medium-high heat. Use a 1-ounce scoop or two spoons to drop golf-ball-size dumplings evenly over the surface of the stew. Cover the pot and cook until the dumplings are firm, fluffy, and fairly dry on top, about 20 minutes.
  7. Serve at once, sprinkled with a little parsley for color.
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