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Gluten-free dumplings lighten classic chicken dish

Now that I’m a mom, my own mother knows all too well that I appreciate a break from cooking. And my appreciation is even more enthusiastic for a dish I simply don’t prepare for myself.

Chicken and dumplings, prepared by my mom, served at her table after the drive between the Rogue Valley and the South Coast, doesn’t get any more comforting in my book. Making it at my house, from my ingredients, with my preferred vegetables and spice palette couldn’t possibly strike the same chord.

One guaranteed deviation from my mom’s format is the dumplings. I wholeheartedly approve of how large she makes hers and how she simmers them almost conjoined across the surface of the broth. But I can’t envision using Bisquick in any capacity, even for those dumplings. Let me measure my own ingredients that I can multipurpose across any number of other recipes.

And if I’m adapting a recipe to that extent, I’m tempted to try other dumpling variations. This one from celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito’s latest cookbook isn’t just a lighter dumpling than Bisquick can produce, it’s gluten-free, in keeping with keto dieting.

I’ve been warming up to the wonders of almond flour, mixed with cheese, egg and baking powder to make a dough, since testing the recipe for chaffles, posted in February to this blog. The one caveat is keeping these delicate dumplings from cooking too hot or too long.

I do wonder why DiSpirito doesn’t incorporate bone-in, skin-on chicken, given the keto diet tenet of high fat consumption. But bones and skin would constitute a more rustic presentation that may overshadow the dumplings. That aesthetic goes best in my mom’s kitchen.

Chicken and Dumpling Soup

For soup:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces

Celtic sea salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1/2 yellow onion, peeled and diced

1 stalk celery, diced

1 small carrot, diced

2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

2 teaspoons fresh thyme

4 cups chicken stock

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1/3 cup heavy cream

For dumplings:

1 cup shredded, low-moisture, whole-milk mozzarella cheese

2 tablespoons full-fat cream cheese

3/4 cup almond flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Celtic sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 large egg, beaten

Make chicken soup: In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over high heat until shimmering. Season the chicken with the salt and pepper, add to pot and cook until golden brown on all sides and almost cooked through, for about 8 minutes total. Remove chicken to a plate.

Add the onion, celery and carrot to pot and cook until tender, for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic during final minute of cooking. Add the thyme and season with more salt and pepper.

Return chicken to pot, add the chicken stock, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 25 minutes to meld flavors and season again with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the parsley and cream and reduce to lowest simmer setting.

Make dumplings: Place the mozzarella and cream cheese in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at 30-second intervals, stirring after each, until melted and smooth.

Add the almond flour and baking powder and season with salt and pepper. Once cooled slightly, add the beaten egg and stir until dough forms. Transfer dough to a piece of parchment paper and roll into 12 small balls.

Drop dumplings into simmering soup and cook until lightly puffed, for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Do not simmer on a high setting or for too long.

Makes 6 servings.

— Recipe from “Rocco’s Keto Comfort Food Diet” by Rocco DiSpirito (Rodale Books, March 2020).

Tribune News Service photo