Fall has arrived and that means brisk mornings and golden trees here in Colorado. As we transition from summer to fall, I hope you’ve carved out some time for apple picking and bonfires. I don’t know about you, but when sweater weather arrives, I immediately start craving the warmth of comfort food. I got this recipe from my mother-in-law who grew up in the South and learned how to make chicken & dumplings from scratch. I was always a little intimidated to make this recipe. Her batches were always so good and everyone would go back for seconds and thirds. How could I possibly live up to that? Plus, I think “dumplings” have a reputation being complicated to make, but they are actually pretty easy and fun to make. Even my 4-year-old daughter helps me make them. This dish is southern comfort perfection with tender pieces of chicken, flat dumplings and homemade broth. It gets better as it simmers, so make it on a lazy Sunday at home. Enjoy!
FOR THE CHICKEN AND STOCK
- 1 whole chicken (cut into quarters)
- 8 cups water
- 1 medium onion, cut in half
- 3 medium carrots, cut in half
- 3 ribs of celery, cut in half
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- Pepper to taste
- In a large sauce pot or Dutch oven, place whole chicken, water, onions, carrots, celery salt and pepper. Note: you may need a bit more water to make sure the chicken is completely covered. Bring to a simmer and reduce the heat, keeping the pot at a simmer for one hour.
- When the broth is finished cooking, remove the chicken from the pot. Set it aside to cool.
- Line a strainer with cheesecloth or several layers of paper towels. Place over a container and strain the broth into it. Discard the veggies. Let the broth cool so that the fat will separate to the top. Once you have a layer of fat on top, skim it off and discard.
- Meanwhile, pick the meat off the chicken. Separate the skin and bones from the pieces and shred the chicken. Set aside.
FOR THE DUMPLINGS (YOU CAN DOUBLE THIS, I ALWAYS DO)
- 1 cup unsifted all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/8 double-acting baking powder
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 egg lightly beaten
- 3 tbsp. of whole milk
- Place flour, baking powder, salt, and butter pieces into a food processor, (or use a large mixing bowl) and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
- Add the milk a little at a time and mix just until the dough begins to form.
- Turn out on a lightly floured surface and knead just about 3 or 4 times.
- Roll out to about 1/4″ thick and use a sharp knife to cut into dumplings of your desired size. They will expand when cooked. I suggest cutting them about 1″ by 2″. Let the dumplings sit on the counter to dry out while you begin the next step.
- Put all of the chicken broth into a large pot and bring to a boil. Cook for about 30 minutes to reduce and concentrate the flavors a bit. After about 30 minutes, start adding the dumplings one by one into the pot, stirring in between so that they do not stick together.
- Cook the dumplings for about 12 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove about 1/2 cup of broth from the pot and whisk in 2 TBSP of flour. Add this into the pot to thicken and create a bit more creaminess.
- Add the shredded chicken and season well with salt and pepper, extra heavy on the pepper. That is key!