Chicken and Dumplings is a truly comforting dish that I have been craving for some time now. After an unfortunate first try, I have now satisfied myself with the help of Simply Recipes. This recipe, while a bit time consuming, wasn't difficult to make. And even better, it ended up being very popular at a pot-luck lunch where I got several requests for the recipe. I am now very happy to share it with you.
Why was my first try at Chicken and Dumplings such a flop? Well, in reflecting on the experience, it probably wasn't a good idea to poach the chicken for a long period of time to make the stock. Also not a good idea was putting in the vegetables early in the process.
This time, I seared the chicken and only poached it for a short time afterward. The vegetables didn't go in early. I put them in toward and finished the recipe with the dumping topping as soon as they reached the correct level of doneness. The dumplings are the final step, and they cook very quickly. With this cooking process I got much better results!
I spent time finding just the right recipe that I would adapt to my tastes. In my Chicken and Dumpling research, I learned that there are two versions of the dish: a southern version and a northern one. I do prefer the northern version.
The biggest difference in the two versions has to do with the preparation of the dumplings. In the northern version, the dumplings are dropped into the stew and cooked while the pot is covered. The dough for the dumplings is just barely mixed, and the dumplings end up light and tender. In the southern version you make the dumplings by rolling out a dough and cutting it. You cook them for a longer period of time in the stew and they end up being much more dense.
So here it is, a delicious, crowd-pleasing, northern-style chicken and dumpling recipe.
Chicken & Dumplings
Adapted from Simply Recipes
For the Stock
5-6 lbs chicken parts (breasts, drumsticks, thighs, with bones), skin removed
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
salt and pepper for seasoning the chicken and onions (to taste)
6 cups hot water
For the Stew
3 celery stalks, trimmed and cut into 1/3-inch pieces
4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
6 boiling onions (approximately 1" in diameter), peeled, halved, & sliced
6 Tbsp unsalted butter
6 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons dry sherry or vermouth
1 tablespoons heavy cream (optional)
1 cup frozen green beans, thawed
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
Ground black pepper
For the Dumplings
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup minced fresh herb leaves such as parsley, chives, and tarragon (optional)
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/2 cup milk
In a large dutch oven heated to medium-high, add a tablespoon of oil and saute the onions with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the pot and set aside.
In the same dutch oven, add another tablespoon of oil and brown the chicken on all sides. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook an additional 15-20 minutes. Return the onion to the pot and add the water. Increase the heat to medium high.
Add the bay leaves, 1/2 teaspoon salt and simmer, partially covered, for 20 minutes. By the end, the chicken should be cooked through. At this point, remove the chicken pieces so they can cool. Strain the broth and discard the solids. Reserve five cups of the stock for making the roux.
Add the chicken and the unreserved stock back into the pot along with the carrots and cook three minutes. Then add the celery green beans, and parsley. Cook for an additional five minutes.
While the chicken and vegetables cook in the stock, you can make the roux which will thicken the stock and turn it into a light sauce.
To make the roux, melt the butter in a large pan. Whisk in the flour and continue whisking for one to two minutes. The roux will turn light golden brown. As you whisk, pour in the sherry or vermouth and continue whisking! Slowly add the reserved five cups of stock while still whisking. You should now have a lovely gravy such as mine:
Doesn't it look so wonderful? At this point, you are almost done!
The dumplings will come together very quickly. Begin making them now by sifting together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix in the fresh herbs. Finally, add the melted butter and the milk. Use a large fork to combine the liquids and dry ingredients only until the dry ingredients are just moistened.
Because I made this dish for a pot luck, I wanted extra dumplings. So at this point, I mixed the dumplings into the stew, added even more stock (this time the stock came from a box), made a second batch of the batter, and added the new dumplings to the top of the stew, cooking for another 30 minutes.
This dish is best if served immediately, but it was fine next day when I served it (reheated in a crock pot).