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.

IMG_1595

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.

Talk about fast and easy dumplings – our King Arthur Unbleached Self-Rising Flour is a handy way to start.

chicken3Whisk together the following:

2 1/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached Self-Rising Flour
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives or parsley or 2 teaspoons dried, optional

Add 4 tablespoons cold butter, working it in until the mixture is crumbly.

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, if you don't have our self-rising 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

Continue with the directions above, working in the flour, then adding the herbs, and finally 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
The Author

About PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

View all posts by PJ Hamel