Chicken and Dumplings

    Chicken and dumplings might be one of the most quintessential comfort foods ever. It's like a warm blanket of thick rich chicken stew with a pillow of dumpling in every bowl. What could be more comforting than a blanket and a pillow? 

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    Most people think of chicken and dumplings as a comfort food from the southern United States, but I grew up in Canada with chicken and dumplings made by my British mother. What I was eating in my childhood was probably different, however, to what is commonly enjoyed in the South and that difference probably comes down to the type of dumplings. Chicken and dumplings in the South usually has a rolled dumpling that is similar to a flat noodle.

    My mother’s dumplings, on the other hand, were big tender dollops of dough dropped on top of the rich stew and then steamed. Because I grew up on chicken with dropped dumplings, of course that is what I gravitate towards when I make chicken and dumplings as an adult (although I won’t turn down a bowl of the rolled dumpling variety!).

    Dumpling batter in a glass bowl with a green spatula - part of chicken and dumplings.

    As with any food that is enjoyed by so many, there are just as many ways to make this delicious meal as there are cooks who make it. Some start from scratch with a whole raw chicken, making the broth using that chicken and then pulling the meat from the bones to add to the stew. This version takes a little shortcut and calls for a rotisserie chicken (or roast chicken).

    A cast iron pot with chicken and dumplings in it.

    This not only saves you time, but gives you chicken pieces that are full of flavor, rather than chicken that has given all its flavor to the broth it is sitting in. Of course, you do have to accompany this great chicken with equally great chicken stock, so make your own chicken stock or bone broth or use a brand that you believe in, that has a nice dark color and great flavor.

    There are also shortcuts that you can take when you make the dumplings. Bisquick is a commonly used mix for dumplings and produces quite satisfying results. However, it’s really so easy to make the dumplings from scratch with flour, baking powder and salt, so why not make them on your own? You can also flavor your dumplings by adding fresh herbs. This recipe uses chives, but any fresh herb that you like would be delicious. I sometimes throw a little lemon zest into the mix as well, which really brightens the flavor of the dumplings and might just brighten the cold winter day too.

    A white bowl with chicken and dumplings in it, along with a spoon and a blue napkin.

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    Basic Chicken and Dumplings

    • Servings:
      6

    Ingredients

    • 1 rotisserie chicken torn into bite-sized pieces**
    • 2 teaspoons olive oil
    • 1 onion chopped
    • 2 ribs celery chopped
    • 3 carrots peeled and chopped
    • 2 cloves garlic peeled and smashed
    • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
    • ½ teaspoon dried rosemary
    • ½ cup flour
    • ½ cup white wine or dry vermouth
    • 1 quart really good quality chicken stock
    • ¼ chopped fresh parsley
    • salt and freshly ground pepper

    • Dumplings:
    • 2 cups flour
    • 1 tablespoon baking powder
    • 2 teaspoons salt
    • 2 to 3 tablespoons butter room temperature
    • 1 cup milk
    • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

    Instructions

    1. **If you don’t have a rotisserie chicken, you can use about 2½ to3 pounds of chicken thighs and breasts and sear them in the pot before following with the directions below. Once you’ve seared the chicken pieces, finish cooking the chicken in the oven on a baking sheet, or poach them in the chicken stock that is called for in the recipe. Once cooked, tear or cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and set aside.
    2. Pre-heat a Dutch oven over medium to medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and sauté the onion, celery and carrots until they are tender – about 8 to 10 minutes – stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and dried spices and stir around for another 2 minutes.
    3. Add the flour and stir well. The flour will absorb the fat in the pan and might start to brown a little on the bottom but don’t let it burn.
    4. Add the white wine or vermouth and stir, scraping up any brown bits that have formed on the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken stock and reserved chicken pieces. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
    5. While the stew is simmering, make your dumplings. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Cut the butter in with two knives or by pinching it with your fingers. (You can also use a food processor for this.) Stir in the milk and fresh chives until a wet dough comes together.
    6. Add the parsley to the stew and stir well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a gentle simmer.
    7. Drop the dumplings by the large spoonful onto the surface of the stew. Let the dumplings cook on top of the stew uncovered for about 10 minutes. Then, cover the stew and dumplings and let them cook for another 10 minutes.
    8. Serve it up!
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