Monday, February 7, 2011

Chicken and Dumplings

Being from the South I LOVE chicken and dumplings.  This recipe is derived from a mixture of Paula Dean and Sunny Anderson's recipes.  Of course I put my own tweaks in the mix, but any good chicken and dumplings recipe is the same.  If you haven't pre-made some homemade chicken stock, you will need to boil a chicken (or just 4 chicken breasts/thighs) for 40 minutes, shred the chicken, and reserve the broth.  Now, Paula Dean keeps her veggies from her stock in the pot, but I like fresh, slightly al dente veggies in my soup, so I started from scratch after making the stock from my last post. Also, I incorporated some thyme in my dumplings to echo the thyme I used when making the stock.  Usually dumplings do not have herbs, so you may leave this out if you wish.

Chicken and Dumplings
Soup Ingredients
1 T butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2-3 stalks celery, chopped
1 T all-purpose flour
2/3 meat from 1 poached chicken, hand-shredded
5 cups (~1 box) chicken stock

Dumplings Ingredients
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp salt (eye ball it)
a couple sprigs thyme, leaves removed and chopped
ice water

  • Melt the butter in a large saucepan.  Saute the onions and celery until slightly softened (3-4 minutes). 
  • Stir in flour and allow to cook for one more minute (this will help thicken the soup later and cooking removes the pasty taste of the flour).
  • Add the stock and bring to a simmer on medium heat.
  • While the broth is boiling, make the dumplings.  Mix the flour, salt, and herbs in a bowl (eyeballing is fine). Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and add a few spoonfuls of ice water.  Begin to work this into a ball in the middle of the flour. 

  • Keep slowly adding water until all the flour is incorporated.  Below is my attempt to show you what the dough looks like about halfway through.
  • After all the flour is incorporated into the ball, it should hold together by itself but not be sticky.  Put some flour on a flat surface and begin to roll the dough to about 1/8 of an inch.  I used a large glass cup, so don't worry if you do not have a rolling pin! 
  • Cut the dough into long 1" strips, then divide the strips to whatever size you like.  Traditionally, dumplings are long and narrow, but I found its easier to eat the smaller dumplings.
  • Once your broth is simmering, add the chicken, then carefully place dumplings one-by-one into the broth.  Putting the dumplings in individually makes sure that the dumplings do not stick together.  After you put in the dumplings DO NOT STIR! Resist the urge! Stirring can also make the dumplings stick together.  The dumplings should be cooked in 3-4 minutes, or until they float and are no longer doughy.

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