Chicken Stew with Dumplings: comfort and joy (in under 60 minutes)

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Have you ever made chicken and dumplings?

If you’re from Amish country in Pennsylvania, or parts of the American South, I’ll bet your answer is a resounding YES.

But other areas of the country? Maybe not.

I’m a long-time New Englander, and though I’d heard of chicken and dumplings, I’d never made them – nor even seen them served, let alone enjoyed them.

The closest I’ve come is potato gnocchi which, in their pillowy, moist softness, swimming in sauce, are obviously Italian cousins of traditional American flour dumplings.

Another dumpling variation is Jewish matzo balls. And then there are Czech knedlicky. All share one trait in common: white, bland, moist, and soft, they take on the flavors of whatever they’re immersed in; and they’re comfort food at its finest.

Dumplings are nothing more than flour, butter, salt, leavening, and liquid. Sound familiar? Yes, they’re almost exact biscuit clones, though the dough is slightly looser (wetter). Dropped into simmering soup or stew, dumplings expand to create bread-y rafts that slowly absorb flavors through their underside, while topside they remain pale – unlike biscuits, dumplings aren’t supposed to brown.

It’s true, dumplings aren’t the most strikingly attractive food ever to grace a bowl. Nor is their name (dump…ling) going to win any popularity contest.

But for sheer comfort and satisfaction on a cold winter night, nothing beats a dumpling – especially when it’s paired with chicken soup or stew.

Never made dumplings? Let’s do this together.

chicken1Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a 3-quart saucepan* over medium heat. Whisk in 1/2 cup (2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour; cook for 1 minute.

*If you have a Dutch oven or other type of pan that can go from stovetop to oven, this is a great place to use it, in place of a regular saucepan.

Add 3 cups (24 ounces) chicken broth 1/2 cup at a time, whisking it into the flour and butter to prevent lumps. You’ll undoubtedly create some lumps anyway; don’t stress, just keep whisking and they’ll eventually disappear.

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Measure out the following:

1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste

Now, I’ve never liked figuring out what “to taste” means; I’d rather someone give me some guidance, so here it is: I used 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper. I also used “50% less sodium” canned chicken broth, so if you use full-salt broth, you’ll want to reduce the amount of added salt.

chicken2Add the seasonings to the sauce, along with 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce.

Simmer the sauce for 15 minutes. While it’s cooking, prepare 4 cups diced cooked chicken, and 2 1/2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed and/or cooked; or a mixture of cooked peas and carrots.

To come up with 4 cups diced cooked chicken, if you don’t already have it left over from a roast, simmer about 3 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken until tender; cool, and dice.

Remove the bay leaf from the sauce, then stir in the chicken and vegetables. Bring the mixture to a low simmer while you make the dumplings. You’ll notice it’s rather thin for stew; that’s because the dumplings will absorb some of the liquid – both thickening the stew, and fattening themselves.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

IMG_1613Talk about fast and easy dumplings – our new King Arthur Flour All-Purpose Baking Mix (think Bisquick) is a handy way to start.

chicken3Whisk together the following:

2 1/4 cups King Arthur Flour All-Purpose Baking Mix
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives or parsley or 2 teaspoons dried, optional

Whisk together the following:

3/4 cup (6 ounces) buttermilk; OR 1/2 cup plain Greek-style yogurt mixed with 2 ounces milk; OR 2/3 cup plain standard yogurt mixed with 1 1/2 tablespoons milk
1 large egg

Add the buttermilk/egg all at once to the flour/herbs. Stir until evenly moistened.

Now, assuming you don’t yet have our baking mix in your pantry, here’s how to make the dumplings using regular flour. Whisk together the following:

1 3/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Work in 4 tablespoons cold butter until the mixture is evenly crumbly. This is your baking mix equivalent – continue with the directions above, adding the herbs, then the buttermilk/egg.

chicken4If the stew isn’t already in a Dutch oven or oven-safe crock, quickly pour it into a pan that can go into the oven.

Scoop the dumpling batter onto the filling, using a muffin scoop or 1/4-cup measure. Leave some space between the dumplings; they’ll almost double in size as they cook.

After making dumplings following the recipe as written, I decided next time I’d make them half the size. For smaller dumplings, drop the soft dough into the simmering sauce in heaping 2-tablespoon dollops; a tablespoon cookie scoop works well here.

Put the lid on the pan, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. The final 5 minutes or so, remove the lid, for the dumplings to dry out a bit.

IMG_1627Remove the dish from the oven; see what I mean about browning? The dumplings aren’t brown at all, nor should they be.

Place a dumpling (or two) on a serving plate, then scoop out the chicken and veggies underneath, and ladle onto and around the dumpling(s).

IMG_1654Dig in!

This is my second batch, with smaller, golf ball-size dumplings – much nicer, in my opinion.

Please read, bake, and review our recipe for Fast & Easy Chicken Stew with Dumplings.

Print just the recipe.

 

 

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. MichelleZ

    Is there a way to keep the dumplings from tasting gummy? That is my primary objection to that style of dumpling (as opposed to the noodle-style).

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Michelle, I like to keep the dumplings on the small side, about as big as a golf ball, max (and probably a bit smaller); their tops are just dry enough, and their diameter through the center is small enough, that they don’t become gummy, in my estimation. PJH

  2. Nancy Lockard

    Is it me, or did I miss the step where you transfer the chicken & vegetable sauce mix from the pan to a covered dish?

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Your wish is my command, Savanna – I’ve added those instructions to the recipe, thanks. PJH

    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      David, I haven’t tried it, so no guarantees. But here’s what you can try: use enough GF flour blend to thicken the sauce; you may need less of the blend than the flour the recipe calls for. Substitute GF flour blend for the alternate dumpling recipe, the one using all-purpose flour; add a teaspoon of xanthan gum in addition to the other ingredients. Let us know how it goes, OK? PJH

  3. Lindsay S

    Any tips for high altitude dumplings? I’m at 7220 ft above sea level, and fluffy breads are a serious mountain to climb, if you know what I mean.

    Reply
  4. Roy T. Curbo

    Born and raised in Brownwood, Texas, I have eaten chicken and dumplings all my life. I have never seen a recipe similar to this one and I have never seen chicken and dumplings cooked in the oven.
    That being said, I was reminded of my first chicken and dumplings. I had been married about a year and was hunger for the dish. I called my mother to get her recipe. My mother used canned biscuits. Because I had been making sour dough biscuits for years, I naturally used homemade biscuits. My biscuit recipe was a good deal larger than a can of store bought. My chicken and dumplings looked more like a savory monkey bread than chicken and dumplings.
    Keep making your wonder flours and “trying” new recipes!!!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      HAHA, Roy, I would have loved to see those dumplings – you paint a great mental picture! Chicken and dumplings isn’t native to this region, so not surprising the recipe’s a lot different than yours; as it’s very different than the Pennsylvania Amish recipe, which is more noodle than dumpling. But I’d guess there’s enough room in our big country for all kinds of interpretations, yes? So, what’s your recipe like? Is the chicken stew part a lot different, as well as the dumplings? I love hearing about all the regional variations of things we bake… Thanks for connecting here. PJH

  5. Susie

    This is weird, but I live overseas and don’t have access to buttermilk or plain yogurt. It puts a cramp on good biscuits. Do you have any recommendations to use in place of buttermilk or yogurt?

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      If you can get regular milk and vinegar or lemon juice, you can add 1 tablespoon of vinegar to a cup of milk and make soured milk to replace buttermilk in these types of recipes. ~ MJ

  6. "Lynette Bakes"

    Indeed, PJ, as you say, there is definitely room in our big country for all kinds of interpretations! My first clue that this would be far different from the Texan “chicken ‘n dumplin’s” that I grew up with was the spelling of your “dumplings”. There is definitely no “g” in a Texan dumplin’, either in spelling or pronunciation!
    As far as the recipe goes, though, there are significant differences, too. I start with chicken pieces, a chopped onion or two, and chopped celery in a big pot of salted, peppered water. Bring it to a simmer and cook until the chicken is done. Meanwhile, mix the dumplin’ batter to the point of adding the liquid; that goes in later. Make sure your broth is boiling before you add the milk/egg mixture to the flour mixture. Stir together, then drop by heaping teaspoonsful into the bubbling broth. Cover the pot immediately and DO NOT peek for ten minutes! During that time, chop chicken and add back to the pot when the dumplin’s are done. If necessary, you can add a bit of flour mixed with water to thicken the broth if thickening hasn’t occurred with the dumplin’ batter itself.

    So, that’s it…differences, but it’s all good! Thanks for sharing your version!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Nanette, that sounds like a great thing to try next time – I add vermouth to my chicken-noodle soup, so why not, right? :) PJH

  7. Julie, St. Louis

    PJ,

    Chicken and dumplings was my grandmother’s trademark dish. All 10 grandchildren think of her immediately when we see it on a menu or smell it in a kitchen. I think it was one of few meals everyone including the “picky”eaters loved – and she could feed a crowd. As each of her granddaughters started our own families, we asked for her recipe. She would dutifully write it out in a letter or send a 3×5 index card; but in truth it was from memory and each version came out slightly different. She always made notes about how much work it was (to be sure we appreciated her efforts). And I keep my handwritten copy partly because I love her reference when adding liquid to the dumpling dry mix – “until it becomes gunk”. That’s harder to match than “to taste”!
    Our version doesn’t really offer measurements, but starts with a whole chicken. I add carrots, onion and celery. Grandma brought her completed “stew” to a boil and dropped spoonfuls of dough in a few at a time just before serving. I think she quit adding dumplings when no more could be stirred in. It never went in the oven, but cooked on the stove. As a result, some cook longer than others. I usually have a pot of salted boiling water next to my Dutch oven. I cook the dumplings a few at a time, and transfer to the chicken pot after they pop to the top. They are typically bread-like, not gummy, in the center if I’ve done it right. I also prefer them smallish.
    We all agree – dumplings are not good warmed the next day. So we usually halve the dumpling recipe and make what we can eat in one meal. We save the remaining stew, and make more dumplings when its time for leftovers. If I invite my cousins, there are no leftovers.
    Probably I’ll have to make this soon – its what my husband, a Florida raised convert to the “north”, calls a “winter food”. And now I have a taste for it.
    Julie

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Julie, thank you SO much for posting your memories here. I felt like I was in your grandmother’s kitchen with all the kids! I’d never had chicken and dumplings before making them myself recently (for this blog), and I’ve since found out how many, many different ways there are to make this comforting dish – probably as many ways as there are grandmas, eh? :) Thanks again for sharing. PJH

  8. pabangelpeg

    PJ
    My chicken and dumpling recipe from my mom. The chicken, onion and celery are cooked in a pressure cooker, then moved to a dutch oven, with carrots sometimes I add potato and peas. Depending on how much broth is in the pressure cooker I’ll add chicken broth. As for the dumplings, I used Bisquick, but the ingredients seem to have changed, because the dumplings are gummy now, so I am going to try your recipe. Sounds good on these cold days.
    Peggy

    Reply
  9. Becky Schmitt

    You’ve given me lots of good ideas for the holidays! Chicken and dumplings seems like a nice change from chicken pot pie and yes, I appreciate guidelines for seasonings, so thank you for that! I also think the apple scones should make an appearance on my breakfast table and look forward to trying them. Thank you for another year of good blogs and Merry Christmas!

    Reply
  10. Jacqueline Manni

    This was so delicious — truly a comfort and joy. My husband and I had quite a December culminating in me being sick for the last week. I was determined to cook us a nice Christmas dinner without going to the store amongst the hubbub of frenzied last minute shoppers. I saw this recipe on my daily King Arthur click — realized I had some chicken thighs in the freezer which I could poach, along with frozen corn and peas. I had made chicken stock for soup when I was sick, and had plenty left over. Carrots in the crisper bin. Baking supplies in the cupboard. I even dug out some cranberry sauce from Thanksgiving that I froze to serve with this! Bottle of wine from the cellar and we were golden.

    I appreciate what all of you do at King Arthur so much. Thank you!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Jacqueline, not that’s persevering in the face of adversity for sure. I’m betting this quintessential comfort food did help you feel better, though. Thanks for sharing your story here – and here’s to a happy, HEALTHY 2014! PJH

  11. Heidi Barrett

    I highly recommended this recipe. It’s so easy and oh so good. My husband who is more of a red meat eater even said it was really good. So tonight I’m trying it with the left over turkey from Christmas. Can’t wait!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      I agree, Heidi – this recipe is right up there with macaroni and cheese as far as comfort food goes. I think I’ll have to make it again this weekend! Glad you like it – PJH

  12. Cheryl Hill

    Chicken and dumplings are always a favorite for my family. My Mother always stewed a chicken in large pot, pulled chicken meat apart when tender, added onion, salt and pepper. Prepared the dumplings, but the dumplings in Mississippi were rolled out very thin and cut in about 1 inch strips. Next layer dumplings in with the chicken and broth until pot is full, cook until dumplings are tender on top of stove. I always add garlic powder to make even more flavorful.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      This sounds like a wonderfully satisfying dish, Cheryl – I know dimplings are made differently all over the country, and I love hearing everyone’s own personal experiences with them. Thanks for sharing – PJH

  13. sroarnred53

    If you add salt to the flour before adding liquid for sauce or gravy you’ll NEVER have lumps. I’ve done this for at least 50 years & it’s a no-fail effort. Also, for authentic chicken & dumplings I wouldn’t add veggies of any kind. Chicken, sauce & dumplings are the real deal.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Sure, Carla – I’d thaw overnight in the fridge (or however long it takes it to thaw all the way through), then cover and bake in a 350°F oven until warmed through, probably 40 minutes or so. You’ll have to play it by ear the first time, but once you know what works with your dish and your oven, you’ll have the info. for future chickens stews. Good luck – PJH

  14. Scott in CA

    I wish there was a way, (radio button) to get your recipies to convert to weight…..(grams as well as ounces options), I would MUCH prefer to weigh my ingredients…….

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Scott, on many of our recipes there is such a magic button under “Ingredients” that allows you to choose volume or weight in ounces or grams. Just select the form of measurement you would prefer and the recipe will change to that measurement. Check it out! Barb@KAF

  15. Rebecca Brown

    I have Celiacs Disease. Can I use the King Aurthurs Gluten Free Baking mix for recipe? I miss dumplings, use to make them all the time.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      You sure can, Rebecca – just make sure all the rest of your ingredients are gluten-free, as well. Enjoy! PJH

  16. Scott in CA

    Found the OTHER KAF webpage with the radio buttons to change the measurement values to weight……And proceded to make this……

    Trust me this rocks, I have never liked chicken and dumplings, and actually set out looking for a pot pie recipie ……..

    Some mods from the original recipe were made, we made our own “baking mix” from the KAF Flour/Butter recipe included with the original…..I made a double batch of the KAF recipe for their baking mix, 100% of that double batch and doubled all other ingredients for the dumpling dough. Added pearl onions, and edimamie, and the 2 frozen veg package…about 10-12 oz each, and doubled the broth……adjust as needed, we were looking for a pot-pie type gravy rather than a loose soup…..Scooped dough with a Ice cream cookie size, maybe 1 oz per scoop…….dumplings were perfectly cooked inside, and not slimy gummy goo, there was actually fluffy BAKED-Type interior constancy to them, they were friggin AWSOME…….

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Scott, thanks so much for sharing your experience with the stew and dumplings – and so glad you obviously liked them! :) PJH

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