Quite possibly the only good thing that comes out of this ridiculously frigid winter is the pure winter food. Snow food. Subzero food. We’ve found ourselves hunkered down on snow days and snow nights more times than I can count in the past month and with that, we’ve fallen in love with this chicken and dumplings recipe.
Growing up in the northeast, neither of us had ever eaten this classic Southern comfort food before this winter (I know, right?!) but we’re smitten. Utterly smitten. This one-pot meal does take a little time to pull together but if you’ve got a couple hours to spare – most of which is inactive time – you won’t be disappointed. At its core, this chicken and dumplings is a hearty white chicken stew topped with fresh and fluffy melt-in-your-mouth dumplings made with rendered chicken fat you’ll save from the start of the recipe. You could add some herbs to the dumplings if you so desire but in my Yankee opinion, the recipe is quite perfect as it is. At this point, this winter can shove it. But don’t take my chicken and dumplings away with it.
I've made this recipe twice in the past few months; once using bone-in chicken thighs and once with boneless skinless thighs and the difference in flavor was negligible. If you want a slightly less fattening version, go with the boneless skinless thighs. You could also use chicken breasts here but the thighs really do have more flavor.
The recipe also halves really nicely, especially for two people who want some leftovers.
Lastly, the dumplings should be made the same day you eat the stew - they aren't as fabulous when reheated. But if you plan to only eat a portion of the stew on the first day and leftovers the next night, the dumplings are super quick to make so consider making only what you need for each day.
- 5 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
- 4 tsp canola oil, divided
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 4 carrots, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 2 ribs celery, sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 1 large onion, minced
- 6 tbsp all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup dry sherry
- 4 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth
- ¼ cup whole milk
- 1 tsp minced fresh thyme leaves
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup frozen green peas
- 3 tbsp minced fresh parsley leaves
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp table salt
- 1 cup whole milk
- 3 tbsp reserved chicken fat (or unsalted butter)
- To make the chicken stew: Pat the chicken pieces dry then sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until it just starts to smoke then add half of the chicken, skin side down, and brown both sides, about 10 minutes. Move the chicken to a large plate and remove the skin. Pour off the chicken fat from the pot into a heatproof bowl and reserve until later. Return the pot to the heat, add the remaining oil to the pot and repeat with the remaining chicken. Pour off the fat into the bowl.
- With the pot back on the heat, melt the butter and cook the carrots, celery, onion, and ¼ teaspoon salt until the vegetables have softened, about 7 minutes. Stir in the flour. Whisk in the sherry and scrape up any brown bits. Whisk in the chicken broth and milk, then stir in the thyme and bay leaves. Nestle the chicken into the mixture, cover the pot, and allow the mixture to a simmer on low for 1 hour.
- With tongs, pull the chicken out of the pot and transfer it to a cutting board - it will probably fall apart as you pull it out so do this carefully. Remove the bay leaves. Remove the chicken bones (and discard them) and shred the meat. Skim any fat off the top of the stew (and discard), then stir the shredded chicken into the stew. Stir in the peas and parsley, and season the stew to taste with salt and pepper. Return the stew to a simmer.
- To make the dumplings: Stir the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Heat the milk and reserved chicken fat (or butter) together in the microwave until warmed through, about 1 minute. Using a wooden spoon, stir the milk mixture into the flour mixture until just combined.
- Scoop out golf ball-size pieces of the dumpling batter and plunk them gently on top of the stew, about ¼-inch apart (you should be able to get 18 dumplings). Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and allow the dumplings to double in size, about 15-18 minutes. Serve immediately.
adapted from The Cook's Illustrated Cookbook