12.09.2012

Root Vegetable Stew with Gluten-free Dumplings

There's just something about stew and dumplings. It's warm, cozy, comforting - not to mention tastes delicious. How could you possibly go wrong?


I tried this recipe a couple of years ago. 
And loved it. 
Then I went gluten-free. 
Ugh.


Can I just say that the mere thought of gluten-free dumplings pretty much scared me nearly to death. I forewarned my husband:

"I just want you to know that this meal has the potential to be an epic disaster..."


Thankfully - my mother trained me well. We would make dumplings when I was a kid, to go with what I honestly don't remember, but man were they a treat! Soft, pillowy, delightful little balls of comforting goodness. They only showed face during the cold Northeastern winter months, of course. Come summer, any thoughts of dumplings disappeared with the melting winter runoff. I guess that's what makes them special - but if I could have had it my way, we would have been eating dumplings once a week.

Now these are not your run-of-the-mill Southern comfort chicken and dumplings kind of dumplings. These are the kind of dumplings that cook atop bubbling stew within the safety of a tightly closed dutch oven, either on your stovetop or in the oven. These are the dumplings that, once inside the confines of said dutch oven, your mother warned you not to peak at - because lifting the lid might spoil the goodness inside. Basically, they use the steam that is trapped inside the vessel to cook through, so allowing the steam to escape can hamper the cooking process.


I had to tweak the recipe a little bit, but I dare say they turned out pretty darn good. This recipe is pretty easy, but the prep work can be a handful and a half. Use any combination of root vegetables that you like. I have tried this recipe with the addition of golden beets and celeriac and it was delightful. Just make sure that your combination of peeled and chopped roots totals about 2 pounds.

I'd like to take this opportunity to give a little shout out to my good friend the rutabaga. I adore rutabaga. Growing up my mom would make them for my dad, boiled and then mashed with carrots (to add a bit of sweetness). I was afraid to try them until I was a bit older, but once I did I was hooked. They're delicious with a bit of butter or smothered in gravy, depending on your mood of course. Most kids these days don't even know what a rutabaga is. When I moved out to Washington state a few years ago, I tried to make the famous mashed rutabaga dish for my in-laws when they came out for Thanksgiving (and to meet me for the first time!). It was a disaster. I did everything right, except they ended up being bitter and, well, disgustingly inedible. I shamefully covered the dish and hid it in a corner, hoping nobody would notice. When I talked to my parents, my father's response was, "Well you have to wait until after the first frost, the cold helps them sweeten up!"



Newsflash, western Washington winters are, shall we say, mild? It doesn't really frost. Needless to say, I didn't attempt to make rutabagas again while I was living on the West coast. Living here in upstate has its fair share of misery, but at least the ground gets cold enough for fantastic root vegetables. But we're moving back to Washington next year, so I guess I better suck it up.

I used Al Fresco Sweet Apple Chicken Sausage in this recipe as I think it imparts a really great sweetness to the dish. But feel free to use any other kind of sausage that you like, italian style turkey sausages would also work well. I just wouldn't recommend any type of spicy/hot sausage - it just wouldn't work well with the other elements of the stew.

P.S. I recently acquired a new camera, as an early Christmas present from the hubs...so pardon my photos until I get a handle on this DSLR thing ;) I know...some of them are a little blurry...




Root Vegetable Stew with Sausage and Dumplings

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Yield: 6 servings

Stew:
  • 4 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
  • 12 oz. Apple Chicken Sausage (I recommend Al Fresco's Sweet Apple Chicken Sausage)
  • 2 lbs Root Vegetables, or 8 oz. each of Carrots, Parsnips, Turnips & Rutabaga - peeled and diced (could also use/sub Golden Beets and Celeriac; if using parsnips, be sure to quarter and remove the woody core)
  • 1 large Onion, diced
  • 4 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh Rosemary or Thyme (1 tsp if using dried)
  • 4 cups Chicken Broth, reduced sodium
  • 3 cups Leafy Greens, chopped (kale, turnip greens, collards, beet greens, etc.)
Dumplings:
  • 1 3/4 cups Gluten-free Flour Blend, good quality
  • 1 Tbsp fresh Parsley, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Baking Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1 large Egg, lightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup low-fat milk (can use non-dairy)
  1. Heat 2 tsp of the oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add sausages and cook, turning occasionally until browned on all sides - about 5-6 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and allow to cool slightly. Using tongs or a fork if necessary, slice into 1/2-inch rounds with a sharp knife.
  2. Heat the remaining 2 tsp of oil in the same dutch oven over medium heat. Saut√© onions until barely tender, about 4 minutes. Add root vegetables and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add garlic and herbs and saut√© until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Pour in broth and bring mixture to a simmer, stirring frequently. Add salt and pepper to taste now, before the dumplings are added!
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the dumplings by whisking together the flour, baking powder, salt, and parsley in a medium bowl. Add the egg and milk and whisk until a smooth batter forms. No need to worry about over-mixing here - no gluten, remember?
  4. When the stew starts to simmer, stir in the greens and the sliced sausage. Return the stew to a simmer. Drop the dumpling batter into the simmering liquid in about 1/4 cup measurements, yielding 8-10 dumplings. Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cover the dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid. Cook, undisturbed, until the dumplings are cooked through and the vegetables are tender, about 12-15 minutes.
Nutrition per Serving: 419 Calories; 9g Fat; 2g Saturated Fat; 66g Carbohydrate; 6g Fiber; 17g Protein

*Adapted from Eating Well*


Happy gluten-free cooking!


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