You know what amazes me?

Flour.

Yup, just that – flour.

I mean, think about it. You take flour, add in just a few other ingredients, and you get everything from bread to pasta to dumplings. On top of that, you can use flour to make crunchy, crispy coating for fried chicken or really fried anything. And when a sauce is too thin, you mix up some flour with butter to make a roux and your watery sauce will turn silky in no time. Or you let the roux brown and you’re well on your way to making Louisianan goodies like gumbo and etouffé, which let me assure you, is on my must-cook list of 2010.

So when I was browsing through the latest issue of Saveur and came upon this ridiculous (as in ridiculously gorgeous) photo of chicken paprikash, with a recipe that uses flour to both make the dumplings and coat the chicken, I did not hesitate. One glance over at my bin of flour to check that I have enough at hand and off I went to shop for the other ingredients. Although the recipe calls for a whole chicken cut up into pieces, it would work just as well if you bought an equivalent amount of whatever chicken parts you like. I’m personally a dark meat person, so next time I make this, I may just buy some thighs, drumsticks, and wings.

Adapted from recipe in Saveur Jan/Feb 2010. Basically, I omitted taking off the skin from the chicken and also just chopped up the tomatoes without bothering to seed and core them. Yup, I really am that lazy.

Dumplings:
1 tsp kosher salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup water
3 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

Chicken:
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
3-4 lb chicken cut up into 6-8 pieces
freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp sweet paprika
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
1.5 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup sour cream

Prepare the dumplings: Bring a large pot of water to boil. In a large bowl, combine the flour (2 cups) and salt (1 tsp) and form a well in the center. Mix the egg with water (1/2 cup) and pour into the well. Stir together to form a dough. Knead for a minute or so in the bowl until smooth.

Once water is boiling, add in a few large pinches of salt. Then using a small spoon (or even by hand), scoop walnut-sized* portions of dough into the pot. Boil dumplings until tender and floating, about 6-8 minutes. Drain dumplings and rinse in cold water. Set aside.

(*Angi’s update: Along with some of my friends/testers, I also found that walnut-sized dough balls end up a bit heavy and chewy in the middle. It may be better to use smaller, quarter-sized portions. I haven’t tested this yet though, so please let me know if you do and whether that helps.)

Braise the chicken: Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Put flour (1/2 cup) onto a plate to dredge the chicken and shake off excess. Brown chicken in pot – if needed, do this in two batches to avoid crowding the chicken pieces. Set aside.

Without washing off the pot, add paprika, peppers, tomatoes and onions. Cook while stirring until onions are soft (about 5 min). Add back the chicken and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, put cover on, and simmer until fully cooked (about 12-15 min, depending on how big your chicken pieces are).

Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk sour cream with flour (2 tbsp). Once chicken is cooked, scoop a couple ladles of the sauce into the sour cream mixture and stir around until there are no big clumps of sour cream. Add the sour cream mix into the pot and remove from heat. Stir everything around to distribute the creamy sour cream all over.

Finish the dumplings: Melt butter (3 tbsp) in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add dumplings and parsley and saute until hot (about 2 min), tossing the dumplings around occasionally.

Serve chicken with dumplings on the side.

(Makes about 4 servings)

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