Why It Works
- Making a flour and butter roux creates a creamy broth.
- A biscuit-like dough with an added egg makes fluffy and tender dumplings.
My mother never made us chicken n' dumplings growing up, but I'm versed enough in the American cooking vernacular to know that there are two great schisms in the chicken n' dumplings universe. We can all agree the meat should be tender, the dish should be overwhelmingly comforting, and one serving is never enough. What we have a bit more trouble with is the broth and the dumplings.
Some insist the broth ought to be clear, nearly soup-like in body, while others like theirs creamy, opaque, and rich. In extreme cases, folks even insist the liquid portion should be as thick as gravy, pooling into a slow puddle that creeps across a plate rather than splashes in a bowl.
The dumplings are an equally great divide. Thick, noodle-y dumplings, or biscuit-like balls?
Well, at the risk (OK, near certainty) of angering half of the readers here, I offer the version that I've been making for the last few years and will be raising my own children to believe is the One True Chicken N' Dumpling recipe.
Mine has drop dumplings made with a biscuit-like dough, albeit a little leaner than my normal biscuit dough, with an egg to help them puff as they simmer. They come out soft and tender on the outside, with a slick surface that reminds me a bit the top layer of dough in a New York pizza, right where it meets the sauce. The centers of the biscuits are light, fluffy, and tender.
I make my broth rich and creamy, but not so rich and creamy that you can't eat a bowl of it with a spoon without wanting to fall asleep immediately afterwards.
If you happen to make it with leftover turkey or roast chicken (as I heartily suggest you do), save some gravy and add it to the broth before you add the dumplings for some extra richness.
These are my dumplings, and I'm sticking to them. My children are free to explore other options once they are self-supportive and no longer living under my roof.
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
- 1 1/2 quarts (48 ounces) homemade or store-bought low sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup leftover gravy (optional)
- 1 large onion, finely sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 2 medium carrots, chopped medium (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 3 medium ribs celery, chopped medium (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 1 pound leftover roast turkey or chicken, torn into rough bite-sized pieces
- 1 1/2 cups thawed frozen peas
- 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 whole egg
Heat 3 tablespoons butter in a large Dutch oven or saucepan over medium-high heat until melted. Add 3 tablespoons flour and cook, stirring constantly, until pale golden brown, about 3 minutes. Slowly whisk in broth. Add gravy, onions, carrots, and celery. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in turkey, peas, and half of parsley, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.
Melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter. Combine remaining 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, chives, remaining parsley, and 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt in a medium bowl. Combine buttermilk, eggs, and butter in a second bowl. Pour buttermilk mixture over flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until it forms a shaggy dough.
Return stew to a bare simmer. Using a tablespoon measure, drop dumpling dough in 1-inch balls over surface of stew. Cover and cook until dumplings have puffed and feel firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately.