[UPDATE] Made this for dinner a couple of days ago. This is a great meal for the cooler weather we’ve been having lately. It’s also a way for our new members to get to know a little about me.
Television food shows, beginning with Julia Child, changed the American food scene dramatically. The popularity of the Food Network and the celebrity status of famous chefs has changed the view of American cooking from provincial to world-class.
That change is great for food enthusiasts, like me. However, no matter how often I find myself experimenting with complicated and exotic meals, I always find myself returning to the tried-and-true meals of my predecessors. Comfort food is where it is at, as far as I’m concerned.
With that thought in mind, here is my latest offering – old-fashioned Chicken and Dumplings.
This is not a meal to whip up on a weeknight for one person. The total prep and cooking time is about three hours. The meal serves 4-6 depending on how hungry they are at mealtime. I put the back and any other scraps in a pot with water and make broth while the meal is cooking. The homemade broth is stored in the refrigerator overnight to let the fat congeal. The broth, minus the fat, is added to the leftovers along with some egg noodles to make homemade chicken soup for the following day. I get two meals for the price and labor of one. You can’t beat that.
- 1 large broiler-fryer chicken, cut up into 8 pieces (you could use all thigh meat or leg quarters if you prefer)
- 3 inner celery stalks with leaves, sliced
- 4 carrots, peeled and sliced
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 1 (14 1/2 ounce) can chicken broth
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2-1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 tsp poultry seasoning
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 2-3 stems w/leaves of fresh thyme
- 6 cups of water
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 1 cup frozen green beans (or canned)
- 2 tablespoons corn starch (4 if not making dumplings)
- ½ cup milk
- 2 cups flour or 2 cups of Bisquick. (If you use Bisquick then skip the baking powder and salt)
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 – 3/4 cup milk
- Optional: chopped fresh parsley / fresh thyme or herbs of your choice.
Put a large pot or dutch oven on a burner and add the can of chicken broth, water, bay leaves, bouillon powder, and seasonings. Turn the heat to medium-high.
Add the carrots, onion, and celery.
Add the cut-up chicken, cover, and reduce heat to a simmer.
Let simmer for 2 hours.
Put the back from the carcass in a second pot, add a quart of water, some salt and pepper and a bay leave and cover and simmer while meal is cooking.
After 2 hours, it takes that long to get the fall-off-the-bone tenderness desired, take the chicken from the pot and place in a large baking dish to cool enough to be handled.
Add the frozen corn and green beans to the pot. Turn the heat up to return to a boil then reduce to a simmer.
I forgot a relatively important step. Unless you really like greasy foods then you need to spoon off some of the fat before proceeding. I use a ladle. I push down on it until the lip barely breaks the surface. Don’t worry about taking some of the broth. There’s plenty in the other pot that has been cooking.
Something else I forgot to mention is that I used a really big chicken. It weighed over 5 lbs / 2.2 kg. That gave me way too much meat, which is another reason I had to add some broth from the other pot. Adjust seasonings if you use water to thin it.
Sift the dry ingredients for the dumplings into a mixing bowl and add 2/3rds of a cup of milk. Mix with a fork until it is all moistened. If the weather is dry then you might need to add more milk a tablespoon at a time. Do not over-mix the dumpling dough or the dumplings will be tough (picture below).
Cover with a damp dish towel and rest for 30 minutes. (see update 2 below)
Take a large spoon and drop the dumplings onto the simmering stew.
Simmer the stew with the dumplings for 10 minutes and then cover and simmer for 10 more minutes. (see update 2 below)
While the dumplings are cooking, shred the chicken and set it aside.
When the dumplings are done, remove them to a serving bowl and add the chicken back into the pot.
Put 4 tablespoons of corn starch in a small container with a tight fitting lid. Add ½ cup of milk, cover and shake to mix. Add about ½ of this mix to the pot and turn heat up to bring it to a boil. If you would like it to be a little thicker then add some more of the corn starch/milk mixture until you are satisfied.
Serve immediately and watch them gobble it down.
Hubie, semi-official chief chef on the Moose, had some suggestions in the comment thread below.
Another dumpling question (0.00 / 0)
How long do you let the dough rest before dropping the dumplings?
20 minutes to an hour (2.00 / 1)
You can let it go longer, but two hours is really pushing it. My rule of thumb is pretty much like croissant dough, and that is about 30 minutes a pop.
We also discussed the best method of cooking the dumplings. There are at least 3 different ways to do it, as you can see in these comments.
There are two schools of thought on how to get the best drop dumplings. (0.00 / 0)
I was going to mention that in the diary. One method is to cook uncovered for 10 minutes and then cover and cook for an additional ten. The other school of thought says you should put the lid on the pot right away and leave it there for at least 15 minutes without checking. I’ve tried both ways and think the first method – 10+10 works best. What is your experience on this?
Actually, I tend to go the exact opposite (2.00 / 1)
Cover for 10 and then uncover for 10. Firm up the dumpling first, then give it air to give it a little stiffness to the skin.
So, that’s actually three…
My theory (0.00 / 0)
(been watching too much Alton Brown) is that covering the pot increases the pressure, which would tend to keep the dumplings from rising as much as they would if you left the cover off for the first 10 minutes. Once they have risen then putting the cover on lets them steam for the last 10 minutes and keeps them plenty moist.
The two biggest faults I’ve seen when it comes to dumplings is overmixing the dough and undercooking them. There are others, like dropping them into the liquid so they are submerged and having your liquid at a full boil instead of a simmer. The bit about dropping them into the liquid is something I discovered by making dumplings with beef stew and with chicken and dumplings. The beef stew tends to have more large chunks of meat and potatoes that allow the dumplings to sit somewhat above the liquid. The dumplings I make with stew tend to come out even lighter and fluffier than those in the chicken and dumplings.
If that doesn’t confuse you, nothing will. The fact that there are two completely opposite methods tells me that people take the search for the perfect dumpling seriously. Take your pick. I’ve had success with two of the methods and a professional chef has said he uses the covered-10/uncovered-10 method. I think the cooking method is less important than not over-mixing the dough and allowing for time for the dough to rise before cooking.