Monday, 17 October 2016

Beer Braised Chicken Stew with Dumplings

I know, using up the last beer to make stew is sacrilege, but my husband loves this meal so much that he offered it up so that we could have this for dinner. It is very loosely based on a Jamie Oliver recipe for rabbit stew with dumplings....and I mean very loosely.

Start with the fact that I use chicken thighs and not rabbit, I add in a lot more vegetables and I use less beer and more chicken stock. This is so easy and adaptable though, that as long as you have beer, bacon and rosemary the meat and vegetables don't really matter at all!

I used quite a few carrots this time, as for some strange reason I have been buying a lot of carrots when I still have some in the fridge; I have been on a mission to use them all up before buying any more!

I also had the last three rashers of bacon from the package to use, so this was just one more reason to make this yummy dinner.

I usually make biscuits to soak up the gravy, but went with another favourite, dumplings, this time.

Start off by dicing and cooking until crisp:

3 rashers of bacon

Remove the cooked bacon from the pan and set aside on paper towels to remove the excess fat. Drain the remaining fat from the pan, but save the pan.

In a  bowl, combine:

1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Use this flour to dredge:

6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs.

Reserve the dredging flour.

Using the same pan that you cooked the bacon in, heat some olive oil. Add the chicken thighs to the pan, browning both sides before removing them and setting them aside until needed.

Turn the heat down, and add more olive oil if needed. Add the vegetables:

3 medium carrots, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 large zucchini, diced

Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally until starting to soften and colour slightly.

Add back the cooked bacon.

Add the reserved dredging flour, and stir to coat all the vegetables and bacon.  Cook for two minutes.

Add back the browned chicken thighs.

Pour in:

1 x 355ml can/bottle of beer

It will bubble up. Stir gently, scraping the browned bits off the bottom of the pan.


3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
Chicken stock - enough to cover the chicken.

Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer and cover. Leave to simmer for about an hour, or until the chicken is tender.

To make the dumplings, combine:

1 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon soft butter

Using your fingers, rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is the texture of fine breadcrumbs.


1/3 - 1/2 cup  milk

Stir 1/3 cup of milk in with a fork, adding more as needed to make a soft dough.

Drop spoonfuls of dumpling dough on top of the bubbling stew. I made 5 large dumplings.

Cover and leave to cook for 15 minutes.

To serve, portion out some chicken and vegetables along with some of the gravy, and top with one or two dumplings.

  • Jamie Oliver's Rabbit Stew also uses mushrooms, which I usually add, but forgot to buy, so I had to leave them out. I always add carrots and zucchini, and have also used celery if there is some in the fridge.
  • The combination of rosemary and bacon is, in my opinion, one of the perfect flavour pairings to use. If you do not have fresh rosemary, use dry, but remember that that fresh, piney flavour gets somewhat lost when rosemary is dried. You could use other fresh herbs such as sage or thyme if you like.
  • The reason I never use rabbit is quite simply the cost. Chicken thighs are much cheaper, at least here in Vancouver, and also a lot easier to find. I do love rabbit though, and would love to make this using it. You could use pork if you wish.
  • Jamie Oliver's recipe calls for a dark beer, but I have found that any beer works, as I usually just use whatever is in the fridge at that time. A darker beer will give a more intense flavour. 
  • This could be made using only chicken stock, if you have no beer, or would prefer not to use it.
  • For the dumplings, feel free to add chopped fresh herbs such as parsley or chives, or spices such as paprika, cayenne pepper or garlic powder.
  • I always start out by using less milk, and adding more if needed. Sometimes I find that I don't use all of the milk;  this depends on the humidity in the air and the moisture content of your flour. 
  • As soon as the milk has been added to the dry ingredients the dumplings need to be cooked, as the baking powder starts to react right away. They also need to be eaten as soon as possible after they are done, as they don't keep well.
  • This fed three people very well.

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