This past Wednesday morning, hubby and I discussed what we might want for supper, and I decided to pull out a package of bone-in chicken breasts (bought on sale, of course!) from the freezer for a nice, big ol’ pot of Chicken and Dumplings.
I’ve always thought of chicken and dumplings as one of my comfort foods — although what I crave as a comfort food varies depending upon my mood and the time of year.
We didn’t know it when I pulled that package of chicken from the freezer, but I was definitely going to need some comfort that day, for that is the day I learned of the unexpected death of my beloved cousin Paul. 😦 And in a slightly odd turn of events, I will say that I always think of Paul when I make Chicken and Dumplings, as he was grown before he deigned to give them a taste (chicken and dumplings, although a delicious comfort food, isn’t the most attractive meal you’ve ever seen — especially if you don’t include some vegetables in with the broth, which my aunt, Paul’s mother, does not, and so it took years for Paul to decide to give this delicious dish a taste).
Chicken and Dumplings (or Turkey and Dumplings with the leftover meat from a turkey) is one of the those quintessential Southern dishes. There are numerous variations. Some include lots of veggies; others don’t. Some have fluffy dumplings (I make mine that way, and I make mine based on how my mom makes hers), others have “dumplings” that are more like noodles.
While you can adjust the amount of servings based on the amount of chicken and broth, I usually just make up a mess of chicken and dumplings, as we say here in the South. Leftovers will keep well for several days in your ‘fridge, and it also freezes well — just reheat it gently, as one would a soup or stew.
I generally make my dumplings the easy way, using baking mix, but I’ve made them from scratch, too — essentially, you just want to make up your favorite biscuit dough (I’m talking the quick bread here, not what we would refer to as cookies here in the States) to the consistency of drop biscuits (in other words, a soft and somewhat liquid dough).
Traditional accompaniments to Chicken and Dumplings are mashed potatoes and a green veg. We usually like to have mustard greens, mixed greens, or spinach with vinegar to serve as a tangy counterpoint. Sometimes, too, we like to spice up an individual serving of chicken and dumplings with some Duck Butter (a new favorite of ours) or Tobasco — it might sound odd, but it really is tasty.
While you can make this without the vegetables in the broth, I’ve taken to adding them in to mine — I like the extra flavor and nutritional boost it gives.
And believe me — it’s a yummy plateful of comfort when you need it. It’ll give you the strength to face that Bridge Over Troubled Water.
Chicken and Dumplings (Number of servings depends upon amount of chicken/turkey or broth; 1 1/2 to 2 pounds boneless chicken or about 3 to 3 1/2 pounds bone-in chicken and veg and 4 or cups of broth will yield about 6 to 8 servings)
- Desired amount of bone-in chicken (skin removed) or boneless, skinless chicken breast (NOTE: When using boneless, skinless chicken, you’ll get a richer taste if you add in a boneless, skinless chicken thigh along with the breast) OR leftover meat from a roasted/baked turkey
- 1/2 to 1 onion, chopped
- 2 to 4 carrots, scraped and sliced
- 2 to 4 stalks of celery, sliced
- 4 or so cups of chicken broth or stock (I used reduced sodium) OR add desired amount of chicken bouillon to water
For the dumplings: (For 4 cups or so of broth; adjust amount up or down as desired)
- 2 cups baking mix (such as Pioneer, Bisquick, Jiffy, etc.)
- Seasonings to taste: poultry seasoning, dried parsley, and/or sage; add in some cracked black pepper, too, if desired
- Enough milk to form a soft dough (add in slowly, you’ll probably need 2/3 to 3/4 cup)
NOTE: Adjust amount of liquid and quantity of dumplings to suit your tastes for the desired consistency.
- Place chicken, veggies, and broth in a pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until meat is tender. (NOTE: If I’m cooking up a full recipe, which I usually do, I use a Dutch oven-sized pot. ) This will probably take a couple of hours.
- Remove chicken from pot. If using bone-in chicken, remove meat from bones and return to pot. If using boneless chicken, cut meat into chunks and return to pot.
- Place baking mix in a medium-sized bowl. Stir in desired dry seasonings. Gradually stir in milk until you have a soft dough — as if you were making drop biscuits or drop cookies.
- Return chicken and veggies to a boil. Drop in dumpling dough, a large spoonful at a time, onto bubbling broth, in a single layer. Reduce heat to simmer and cook, uncovered (preferably without stirring!) for 10 minutes. Place lid on pot and cook, covered (once again, preferably without stirring!), for another 10 minutes.
- If broth isn’t thick enough, thicken with a bit of flour mixed with water and simmer, uncovered, to desired consistency. If broth is too thick, add in more broth as desired and heat through.
- Refrigerate or freeze leftovers.