Chicken & Dumplings is one of those comfort foods that I somehow got hooked on after a friends mom took her left over chicken soup and jacked it up with some cream and the dumplings. Now, even though I was not born in the south, I am a true southern boy at heart. I did, after all, live in Atlanta for 16 years and feel like that’s where my roots are. I also learned a thing or two about southern cooking. It really does sooth the soul. What’s not good with cream in it anyway?
I’ve basically been making my chicken & dumplings the same for years and it comes out perfect every time. So here is the recipe I use, I’m sure it’s very similar to what most people do and I never really followed anyone’s recipe to begin with. As long as you realize the basics then this is one of the easiest dishes even for a novice cook. I do like to use a free range chicken and organic vegetables, but that’s just my taste. Use whatever you like. But I think the real key is using a whole chicken on the bone. Enjoy! And be sure to let me know if you tried it. This recipe will serve about 4 people.
For the chicken:
1 Whole Free Range Chicken - about 3lbs (Cut up)
6-8 Cups of Organic Unsalted Chicken Stock
3 Peeled Medium Organic Carrots
3 Stalks Organic Celery
1 Organic Leek or other Onion of choice
Kosher Salt & Cracked Black Pepper
Olive Oil & Butter
1/4 - 1/2 cup All-Purpose Flour
1/4 - 1/2 cup Cream (Or Milk, but you want a nice creaminess, this not a low-cal dish by this step at any means)
Dried Rosemary, Dried Thyme, Ground Sage, Poultry Seasoning (I use Bells)
2 Cups Cake Flour (Trust me on this one, you want light, fluffy dumplings)
2 Tspn. Baking Powder
3/4 Tspn. Kosher Salt
2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, Melted
Your choice of herbs dried or fresh such as Rosemary, Thyme, Chives, Tarragon or whatever your little heart desires… I use Sage,Thyme, Chives
I started by cutting up the chicken. Leave the skin on at this point. Nothing fancy just your basic parts, the leg/thigh, then wings, then remove breast but still leaving some bone. Now, get that saute pan ready with a few shots of Olive Oil and a little butter. I use the butter because it helps from the oil not splashing. Season the chicken with Kosher salt and cracked black pepper and then place them skin down in the hot olive oil and let them do their thing. Not too much of a thing, just enough to get a nice brown on the skin, then remove them. Now, take that yummy chicken and place it inside an 8-Qt pot or whatever you have deep enough. Once it’s in, then pour the chicken stock over it. And trust me, you’ll want to use the unsalted because otherwise it will be way too salty. You really want to control the seasoning yourself. Now add some Rosemary and Thyme whole, don’t chop, we’ll remove it later. Turn that puppy up to a medium or med/high heat and let it do it’s thing. In the mean time, cut up the carrots, celery and onion into nice chunks, nothing too small, but nothing bigger than you can stuff in your mouth. Drop those right into the pot with the chicken. You might need to add more stock or water so do that now. Ok, I’ll wait….lalalalala…What took you so long? Anyway, now that it’s in the pot, LEAVE IT ALONE !! It will love you more if you just don’t bother it for a while. Ok, for you nit picky people, a while means set your kitchen timer for 27 minutes. Why 27? Don’t question me, just do it! While this is simmering -you may have to periodically add more stock or water- go ahead and make the dumplings.
Now, some like strips but I prefer a good ole’ big fat dumpling. I like the cake flour because you will get nice fluffy dumplings. Now, sift all your dry ingredients together and then add the melted butter, and whatever fresh/dried herbs you will be using. Lastly, fold or stir in the cream/buttermilk until the dough just comes together. It will be a little sticky. This is perfect! Stick it in the fridge for a few minutes while we go back to the chicken.
By this time, that chicken is cooked. Gently take it out of the pot and place it on a cutting board or bowl. And remember, if you use a cutting board, make sure it’s one you only use for meat/poultry. You can turn the stove top temp down a bit if it’s bubbling and simmering too much and you’re losing liquid. You can always add more stock. Remove the skin from the chicken and make a nice handbag for yourself. Just kidding. Please don’t. Just get rid of it or eat it. The stray cats here love it. Now start pulling that chicken off the bone by shred or chunks, however you like it. Once you have it all done, dump the chicken back into the pot with the veggies and stock. Let it just come to a low simmer again and gather that 1/4 cup or so of flour and the same of cream. Mix them together. Sure, they may look slightly lumpy but it’s cool. You will stir that into the hot liquid. Once it’s dissolved in the hot liquid it will look slightly tan in color. This is good. Now, this is where you can throw in just a pinch more Kosher or Sea Salt and more pepper. And, any more of the dried herbs you like. Give it another stir.
Now grab that bowl of dumplings we made 11 minutes ago and drop them suckers into the pot big tablespoonfuls at a time. Don’t crown the pot too much. I dropped about 12-15 in my large pot. Now, the most important part of all, cover the pot. AND DON’T OPEN IT FOR 15 MINUTES!! You need that steam to cook the dumplings. After 15 minutes remove the lid and check on them. They should be perfectly cooked. This is where you should taste the creamy goodness to adjust any seasoning. Mine was perfect so I didn’t need to add anything else. The liquid should have thickened up nicely but not so much that you have a paste. You want it slightly thicker than soup. A nice rich creaminess. Well, what are you waiting for? Grab a bowl and serve it up! This will get you love every time. Enjoy!
Questions? Ask away.