By Stacey Little
I’m not sure what it is about a big ol’ pot of chicken and dumplings, but sometimes there’s just nothing that fills your stomach and warms your soul quite like it. It’s got to be one of my favorite comfort foods. And while there are plenty of shortcuts out there (and y’all know I love a shortcut), sometimes you want the old-school, authentic favorite. This is that recipe. Though I do offer up a few shortcuts in the post, I just can’t help myself.
Let’s get started.
Over the years, I’ve learned that nothing is more important about chicken and dumplings than getting your stock right. It’s got to have that super rich flavor and velvety texture.
To do that, I start with a whole young chicken. The bones help richen the broth, so I always use a whole chicken. Opting for a young chicken means the meat will be super tender and since they’re smaller, they’ll cook faster.
Regardless of the exact method, Chicken and Dumplings are one dish I think everyone needs to try at least once. Hopefully, with this recipe, we can make sure of that. Y’all enjoy.
Recipe: Old-Fashioned Southern Chicken and Dumplings
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour and 20 minutes
Serves: 4 to 5
1 (3- to 4-pound) whole young chicken
3 ribs celery, each cut into 3 large pieces
1 large onion, peeled and quartered
1 tablespoon chicken base (like Better Than Bouillon) or 3 chicken bouillon cubes
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups all-purpose flour (see note)
3/4 cup ice water
1 (10.5-ounce) can cream of chicken soup
3 tablespoons cornstarch (optional)
Remove the neck and innards (if included) from the chicken and discard. Place the chicken in the bottom of a large stock pot. Add the celery, onion, chicken base, salt and pepper. Add enough water to just cover the chicken – about 12 cups. Place over medium heat and cook the chicken at a low boil for an hour or until the meat begins to fall off the bone.
Remove the chicken from the stock and set aside. Remove the onion and celery from the pot with tongs, a strainer or by pouring the stock through a fine mesh sieve.
Make the dumplings by placing the flour in a medium bowl. Add the cold water and stir with a fork until combined. The dough will be shaggy. Use your hands to work the dough until it forms together. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead a few times to ensure everything is combined. Dust flour under the dough and on top; then use a rolling pin to roll the dough until it’s about 1/8-inch thick. Turn the dough in a clockwise motion periodically to ensure it’s not sticking to the surface. Add flour under or on top, if necessary.
Use a pizza cutter to cut the dough into 1-inch strips; then cut each strip into about 2-inch lengths. Allow the dumplings to rest.
Once cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the chicken and shred. Discard the bones and skin. Set the meat aside.
Return the stock to medium-high heat. Add the cream of chicken soup and whisk to combine. Add salt and pepper gradually to taste. I’ve used as much as 1 additional tablespoon of salt in this step. It’s important to get the stock seasoned well before adding the dumplings. If you prefer a thicker broth, whisk together 3 tablespoons of cornstarch with 1/4 cup of cool water to form a slurry. Whisk the slurry into the broth and bring to a boil to thicken.
Bring the broth to a rolling boil. Add the dumplings to the stock one at a time, dropping them into the broth and not on top of one another. Stir gently. Once all of them are added, cook them for about 5 minutes or until they are tender and begin to float. Gently add the chicken to the pot and stir to combine. Cook long enough for the chicken to heat through.