To make the chicken stew
Preheat the oven to 180 °C. Rinse the chicken portions and pat them dry with a paper towel. Season to taste and sprinkle with the flour. Heat the olive oil and butter in a pan over medium heat and fry the chicken portions until golden-brown. Remove the chicken and set aside. Fry the onion, garlic and mushrooms in the same pan until cooked. Transfer the onion, garlic and mushrooms to an ovenproof dish, add the beer or apple cider, chicken stock, thyme and chicken, and cover. Roast for about 30 minutes, then add the peas and carrots (if using) and roast for a further 10–15 minutes.
To make the roux
When the chicken is done, make the roux. Melt the butter over low heat and mix in the flour until it forms a smooth paste. Stir in the cream and add salt as required. Add the roux to the stew and stir through. It will thicken without forming lumps.
For the herbed dumplings
While the chicken is cooking, make the dumplings. Break one egg into a standard cup (250 ml), fill halfway with cooking oil and then fill to the top with milk. Pour the contents of the cup into a mixing bowl. Repeat this process with the remaining egg, then whisk until combined. Combine the remaining ingredients, add to the egg mixture and stir to form a soft but manageable dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to about 5 cm thick. Using a round cookie cutter, press out small dumplings and add them to the chicken stew. Roast uncovered in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the dumplings have risen and browned.
Note: This dish is so rich that it needs no accompaniments besides a simple green leaf salad or steamed green beans. The dumplings work just as well on a mellow beef or lamb shank pie.
Extracted with kind permission from Easy Cooking from Nina’s Kitchen by Nina Timm (Struik Lifestyle).