This is a healthful reimagining of a classic dish that people might think of as indulgent and super bad: The ham and cheddar biscuits I became known for in the early days of Iris Café in Brooklyn have been refashioned into a nutritious buckwheat dumpling. People were just crazy for the savory breakfast treat. In fact, we had customers coming in every single day for a biscuit. At a certain point, we decided to offer a more-nutritious alternative that people could enjoy instead—at least some days of the week. But the biscuit needed to maintain the quality of the original so that people wouldn't feel like they were sacrificing flavor. Spinach and onions, along with the cheddar, liven up the alternative flours in the healthier biscuit; buttermilk keeps everything moist. That buckwheat biscuit became a buckwheat dumpling, and with the addition of chicken and vegetables you're getting all of your meat and vegetables—exceptionally healthy, nutrient-dense ingredients—in one hearty, delicious, and satisfying dish.
Place the chicken in a large pot and add 6 cups water (or enough to cover the chicken). Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the meat is cooked through, about 25 minutes. Remove the chicken from the water and set aside to cool. Let the broth continue to simmer until reduced to about 2 cups; this is to intensify the flavor. Set the broth aside. Once the chicken has cooled, pull the meat off the bones. Shred or chop the meat and set aside.
Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, heat the oil for 1 minute, then add the carrots, onion, and celery and cook, stirring, for a few minutes, until the vegetables have softened slightly. Add any other vegetables you have and cook over medium heat just until tender. Try not to overcook, as the vegetables will cook a little more in the oven.
Sprinkle the all-purpose flour over the vegetables and stir around; the flour should make the vegetables look a little dry. Let the flour cook into the vegetables, stirring, until the flour has disappeared, for 3 to 5 minutes. Add the wine all at once while stirring, then cook a few minutes to let the alcohol cook off. Add 1 cup of the broth and bring to a simmer. Little by little, add the remaining 1 cup broth while stirring, allowing the sauce to thicken, until the consistency resembles a thin stew (it will thicken a little more in the oven). Turn off the heat and add the chopped chicken. Stir in the lemon juice and parsley.
Grease a dutch oven with olive oil. Transfer the chicken mixture to the pan. Set aside while you make the dumpling dough.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Heat the oil in a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the spinach and cook and stir until wilted. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
In a medium bowl, mix together
Add the cooled onions and spinach, along with the cheddar and pepper. Pour in the buttermilk all at once and mix with a wooden spoon.
Do not overmix; the dough is done when the buttermilk is just incorporated.
Note: The dumpling dough can be made up to a week in advance and kept in the freezer until ready to use. Simply thaw out and proceed to the assembly directions below.
Drop the dumpling dough in 10 to 12 spoonfuls all around the chicken mixture in the pie pan.
Bake the chicken and dumplings on the top rack until the dumplings are browned and the chicken mixture is bubbling underneath, for 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.