“Chicken & Dumplings” I heard my husband say the other supposedly Spring day as we were walking our dog through a chilling rain/snowy sleet shower. “I’d really like to have some Chicken & Dumplings sometime soon.” I’m sure it was the lovely weather at the time that inspired him to think of that comforting down-home, southern dish. However, I know he would eat a big old bowl of Chicken & Dumplings any time of the year, regardless of the temperature. In fact, I may have even seen him set the car up on two wheels in an effort to make a quick turn into the parking lot of a country church or Fire Hall which was sporting a sign offering up a fund-raising Chicken & Dumpling dinner. He is that much of a fan and the more rustic the Chicken & Dumplings are the better.
Now I’ve tried quite a few recipes for this classic dish in the past. Some old-fashioned, “just like your momma made it” and some new fangled and “quick for the working woman” varieties. I even made a very tasty TexMex Chicken & Dumplings last year that packed quite a spicy punch. But what he wanted this time was just plain and simple, creamy and comforting Chicken & Dumplings. Luckily I had just seen a recipe from Crumbs and Tales for Chicken & Dumplings that I was excited to try out. The fun thing about this particular recipe is that it used leeks rather than the usual celery. I’ve already told you how much my husband loves leeks, so I knew this ingredient twist would be warmly welcomed. Other than the addition of leeks, this recipe is pretty straight forward old-fashioned and yields up a wonderfully creamy, hearty and comforting version, right down to its fluffy cornmeal dumplings. One bite and my husband said “Mmm…this is really good darlin” and I think I may have even seen the glint of a few tears of joy in his eyes as he went back for seconds. No doubt we will be seeing quite a bit of this particular version of Chicken & Dumplings in the future. Make some for yourself today!
Chicken & Dumplings
recipe from: Crumbs and Tales
Yield: 4-6 servings
For the Chicken Stew:
- 3 lbs bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces (thighs and legs are the most tender)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
- 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 leeks (light green and white parts only)
- 1 large onion
- 1 carrot
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, minced
- 5 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
- 5 cups (1250 ml) unsalted chicken broth (or water)
- 1/4 cup whole milk (or 2%)
- 1 cup frozen green peas
For the Dumplings:
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup cornmeal
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2/3 cup buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon parsley, minced
Prepare the chicken stew: Slice the leeks length-wise and then dice into pieces. Dice the onions and carrots. Wash the chicken pieces and pat dry with paper towels. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a wide pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add half of the chicken pieces and par-fry the chicken until golden and crisp on both sides (about 4 minutes on each side). Transfer the chicken to a plate and remove the crisped skin. Add the other tablespoon of oil to the pot and crisp the remaining pieces of chicken and set aside.
In the same pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Mince the garlic, add to the pot and toast lightly for a few seconds. Add the diced carrot, leeks and onion, thyme and 1 teaspoon salt. Sweat the vegetables for about 5 minutes until they are softened. Stir in the flour until the vegetables are coated. Add 1/2 a cup of the chicken stock to create a thick mixture. Add the remaining 4 1/2 cups of stock to the pot along with the milk. Arrange the chicken pieces in the bottom of the pot. Cover and simmer for about 40-50 minutes until the chicken is fully cooked.
Remove the chicken from the pot and place on a cutting board. Remove the meat from the bones and shred the chicken. Discard the bones. Return the shredded chicken to the pot.
Prepare the dumplings: Stir the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Add the butter (the mixture will be crumbly). Add the buttermilk to the flour mixture until incorporated. Mix in the parsley. Set aside for a few minutes — the baking powder will begin to activate the batter causing it to puff up.
Return the stew to a simmer and stir in the peas. Drop the dumpling dough by tablespoons on top of the stew. You should get about 16 dumplings in total. Leave a little bit of room around each dumpling to allow the dumplings to puff up and expand as they steam. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook the dumplings for about 15 minutes until the dumplings have doubled in size. Serve immediately as the dumplings will begin to sop up the juices of the stew. To save time, the stew can be made ahead of time and refrigerated but make the dumpling batter right before you intend to use it and bring the mixture up to a simmer before dropping the dumplings in. For leftovers: If, after refrigerating the stew, the dumplings have absorbed most of the moisture, simply add a little water (and salt if necessary) to the mixture to loosen it up before re-heating.