For as long as I can remember, there has been an ongoing battle over the meal Chicken and Dumplings in our household. There is my mom and my brother who like the biscuit-shaped ones that are plopped over the top of an oven-baked meal and which soak up the gooey gravy and drippings. And then there was my dad, who enjoyed the noodle-type ones that are cooked in a pot of broth with shredded chicken. This debate is also paired with our Johnny Cake vs. Cornbread battle, but that’s another story …
I have been told that there is some national heritage paired with each preference. The noodle-type dumplings (along with cornbread) seem to be more of a Southern tradition. My brother married a girl from Tennessee and that was her family’s staple. My mother, whose family is from Canada and the Upper Peninsula, makes the biscuit type (along with Johnny Cake for that matter). To be honest, I love them both! I really don’t think you can go wrong with a lovely pile of tender chicken and gravy-soaked carbs, no matter the shape. I started making this recipe a couple of years ago in an effort to create a peace treaty between the dumpling enthusiasts in my family. The dumplings in this dish are rolled out like the noodle-type ones, but the batter has a good amount of oil, so dough separates into layers and the gravy nestles in and puffs the dumplings open, like a saturated sponge of chicken-flavored goodness … mmm, mmm, mmm.
To start, I rough chop a couple stalks of celery. Don’t throw away the leaves. The leaves have a ton of delicate celery flavor. Keep them to throw in the pot with all the other ingredients at the end of this recipe. Once it’s all cooked down, they’ll just blend into the juice.
One large sweet onion. Rough chopped.
And 1 or 2 garlic cloves. Essentially you’re making a rich broth. You could also add carrots or peas. (I would add the peas at the end, so they don’t boil down to mush.)
In a large pot, drop a few pats of butter and place the veggies inside.
Place the whole chicken on top and season. (See how I clean a chicken in my post The Process After They’re Processed.)
Here, going clockwise, I have a dash of cracked black pepper, smoked paprika, sea salt, celery seed and poultry seasoning. You could also use your favorite all-purpose seasoning, like Lawry’s or Old Bay.
Fill the pot with a couple of cups of chicken stock and finish with water until the chicken is covered with liquid about 80 percent. I make homemade chicken stock whenever we have chicken bones, and I freeze it in 2-cup portions. Then I thaw it and use it in recipes. It’s much cheaper and healthier, because I can control the amount of salt and skim off the fat.
Let the pot simmer for at least an hour with the lid on. Usually somewhere along the line I cock the lid to let out steam, so it doesn’t boil over.
When the chicken has boiled, carefully remove it from the pot and set it on a platter to cool slightly. It should be falling off the bone at this point. Keep the liquid in the pot.
While the chicken is cooling, I make the dumplings. In a large bowl, combine 3 cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking soda, 1 cup milk and 1/2 cup vegetable oil.
Stir just until combined. Don’t overwork the dough or it will get gummy.
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick.
… and cut into 1-inch squares.
Reheat the broth in the pot and plop the dumplings back in. Cook 10 minutes covered and 10 minutes uncovered.
While the dumplings are cooking, shred the chicken. I use a large fork and twist it away from the bone and discard the skin. (I’d be a liar if I didn’t tell you that I usually nibble a little bit of skin; it’s delicious!) In the last couple of minutes of boiling, add the chicken back to the pot to heat. Stir together and enjoy!
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- Few pats butter
- 2 stalks celery
- 1 large sweet onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 whole chicken
- Seasoning, a dash of each: cracked pepper, smoked paprika, sea salt, celery seed, poultry seasoning (or your favorite all-purpose seasoning)
- 2 cups (or more) chicken broth
- 3 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
Add butter to large pot. Chop celery, onion and add to pot with a couple garlic cloves. Place chicken on top of vegetables and add seasoning. Cover with chicken stock and water until chicken is almost submerged. Simmer for at least one hour with the lid cocked on the pot to let out steam. After one hour, remove the chicken and set aside. Leave juices in pot.
To make dumplings, combine flour, baking soda, milk and oil. Stir until just combined. Roll out on a lightly floured surface 1/4 inch thick and slice into 1-inch squares. Reheat the chicken juices and plop dumplings in. Simmer 10 minutes covered, 10 minutes uncovered. In the meantime, shred the chicken. In the last few minutes of cooking, add the chicken back to the dumplings to heat.