Monday, September 19, 2011

Chicken and Dumplings

The recipes I have for chicken and dumplings aren't antiquated, gross, or in need of updating.  The problem is that one of them needs some fancying up, and the other is too damn much work.

America's Test Kitchen has a fantastic chicken and dumplings recipe.  If you have all day to make dinner and have random 1/2 cups of chicken stock on hand, I highly suggest you seek it out.  If you're like me and hate cleaning splattered chicken grease off your stove and want to be able to kill some zombies and do some laundry on your Sunday afternoon, then this one is for you.

The biggest thing I am cutting out of the ATK recipe is browning the skin-on chicken thighs in multiple batches.  This would be the grease-splatter phase.  Undoubtedly it gives you a deeper flavor, but most of the time I'm willing to trade it in for ease.  (If you are trying to impress someone, brown those thighs.)  Instead I threw my thighs straight into the broth, and it was just fine.  Plus, the little city market I go to doesn't have a huge selection, so skin-on bone-in isn't an option for me unless I go to multiple stores, which I won't do.  Unless I need booze.  Then I'll do it.

The other disagreement I have with ATK is that they use drop dumplings.  My mom always made rolled dumplings, so I find the drop variety weird and kind of gross.  So hey, I guess there was something gross in here after all.  The rolled dumplings should be cooked in their own big pot of water though, because there's not enough liquid to cook them in the main pot.  If you are tempted to try this, let me tell you that you will end up with no dumplings and a really thick floury stew.  It's not *bad* exactly, but it sure as hell isn't dumplings.

However, the drawback of my mom's recipe is that it's pretty much what it says on the tin: chicken, and dumplings.  So in my constant battle against scurvy and vitamin deficiencies, I use the celery, carrots, and peas of the other recipe, but in greater (and standardly-packaged) quantities.  I have problems with recipes that call for less than the standard measure of ingredients, so I usually add or subtract until it's convenient.

Chicken and Dumplings

1 1/2 - 2 lbs trimmed boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 large onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 lb carrots, chopped
4-6 Tbsp flour, depending on how thick you want your stew
1/4 cup dry sherry
4 cups (2 lbs) chicken stock
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced (or half quantity dried)
2 bay leaves
1 lb frozen peas
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

3 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup chicken fat, skimmed from stew (alt: vegetable oil)
1+ cup milk

Saute onion and celery until the onion softens and starts to become transparent.  Add liquid ingredients, thyme, bay leaves, flour, and chicken thighs.  Simmer for one hour.

After an hour, add the carrots and skim as much fat off as you can.  Reserve the fat, just dump it right into your measuring cup and try to get at least 1/3 of a cup.  It's ok to get a little stock or thyme in there.  If using chicken fat grosses you out, substitute vegetable oil.  Also, start a large pot of water to boil for your dumplings.

Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir together.  Add milk to your reserved fat until you have 1 1/3 cup liquid.  Stir into dry ingredients, adding more milk if needed.  Dough should hold together but not be wet.  Roll out 1/8" thick and cut into 1" squares.  Boil until they sink, about 15-20 minutes.

While the dumplings are cooking, remove chicken thighs to a plate or bowl and shred using two forks.  Add back into stew.  When dumplings are done, check carrots for doneness.  If they're ready, add dumplings directly to stew.  If not, drain them and let them hang out until the carrots are cooked and then add.

Remove from heat and add peas, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.  Let sit until peas have come up to temperature, then tuck in.

Serves 6-8.


  1. WANT.

    I'm so glad you did the rolled dumplings because this recipe was actually on my list to re-do as well and that's how I wanted to do it. Now I don't have to go to all that work to figure it out myself, I just have to follow your recipe! Sweet.

  2. So excited to try this! I've been craving dumplings that aren't from a can of biscuits!