12 skinless chicken pieces - a mixture of thighs and drumsticks on the bone, and halved chicken breasts
3 tbsp plain flour
2 tbsp sunflower oil
2 onions, sliced
2 carrots, diced
200g bacon lardons, smoked or unsmoked, or streaky rashers, snipped
3 bay leaves
3 sprigs thyme
bottle of cheap red wine
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 chicken stock cube
140g cold butter, diced
250g self-raising flour
2 tbsp chopped mixed herbs - try parsley, thyme and sage or chives
Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Toss the chicken pieces with the flour and some salt and pepper, to coat them - it’s easy to do this in a plastic food bag.
Heat the oil in a casserole with a lid. Brown the chicken pieces well on all sides - you’ll need to do this in batches. Remove all the pieces to a plate, and tip the onions, carrot, lardons, bay and thyme into the pan. Cook gently for 10 mins until the onion is softened.
Return the chicken pieces, with any juices that have collected on the plate. Then pour in the red wine and tomato paste and crumble in the stock cube. Add a splash of water if you need, until the chicken is almost covered. Bring to the boil, then cover with a lid and bake in the oven for 20 mins. Remove the lid and bake for another 10 mins while you make the dumplings.
Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until it feels like fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the herbs with ½ tsp salt and some pepper. Drizzle over 150ml water, and stir in quickly with a cutlery knife to form a light dough. Use floured hands to shape into ping pong sized balls.
Place the dumplings on top of the stew and bake for 20 mins more until the dumplings are cooked through.