Chicken casserole: Braised borscht chicken with olive and dill dumplings

Borscht braised chicken with olive and dill dumplings
Borscht braised chicken with olive and dill dumplings Photo: William Meppem

Soothing, warming and packed with garlic and spices this dish is everything you need to restore your head and heart. The grated carrot produces a subtly rough texture, much like the home-style hot beetroot borscht you see in Ukrainian kitchens. If you want to make this a vegetarian casserole, replace the chicken with chunks of eggplant, kale, pumpkin and red capsicums, and season very well before braising.

Ingredients

For the olive and dill dumplings

175g plain flour, can be gluten-free
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
50g unsalted butter, softened
1/4 onion, peeled and grated
100g pitted black olives, halved or left whole
1 tbsp dried dill, or a handful of chopped fresh
1 egg, beaten
50ml milk, more if using gluten-free flour
Makes 6-8 dumplings

For the braised chicken and vegetables 

1 large chicken, jointed
400g carrots, peeled (or 200g fresh beetroot and 200g carrot)
2 large onions, peeled
2 sticks celery
6 large cloves garlic
3 tbsp sweet paprika
2 tbsp turmeric
1 tbsp ground coriander
50g flour, can be gluten-free
about 3 tsp chilli flakes, or to taste
750ml chicken stock or water
olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper


Method

Begin by preparing the dumplings:

Put the flour, bicarb and salt in a bowl, rub the butter in roughly then stir in the grated onion, olives and dill.

Beat the egg, pour half into a cup and mix the rest with the milk into the dry ingredients (you may need more milk, especially if you're using gluten-free flour). Save the rest of the egg for later when you add the dumplings to the casserole.

For the braised chicken:

Grate the carrots (and beetroot if using), onions and celery coarsely, place in a  large saucepan or a wide ovenproof metal casserole dish, and fry with 75ml olive oil, 100ml water and a teaspoon of salt for 10-15 minutes until the vegetables carrots are very soft and the onions translucent and sweet-tasting.

Peel and mash the garlic; stir this in and fry a few minutes then add the spices, flour and chilli then stir through well. Add the stock, mix briskly to break up any lumps, then bring to the boil.

Add the chicken pieces, turn them in the sauce a few times then cover and leave to simmer covered for about 30 minutes or until the juices from the chicken almost run clear when pierced, stirring occasionally to stop it catching. Then season to taste.

Add the dumplings:

​Spoon the dumpling mixture in 6-8 dollops into the piping hot casserole liquid, brush the tops with the remaining beaten egg then bake the chicken and dumplings in the casserole dish at 200C (or 180C fan-forced) oven for about 25 minutes until dumplings are puffed and golden (browned lightly on top).