When I was a kid, my only exposure to chicken and dumplings was Cracker Barrel. Those slimy little tabs of in-a-bad-way chewy “dumplings”! The afterthought of chicken à la Campbell’s Chicken Noodle! The gelatinous broth, the lack of flavor made up for in a heavy salt hand! One taste was enough to know the Southern classic was not for me.
It wasn’t until years and years later that I was perusing Ree Drummon’s Pioneer Woman blog that I came across my conversion. This bowl of chicken and dumplings looked rich and hearty, with large, puffy dumplings that mimicked matzoh balls, my favorite. I knew I had to try it, and by God, I’m so glad I did.
This dish is a one-pot wonder: hearty, comforting, yet complex and rich. The skin is left on the chicken for extra flavor and a surprising pop of umamied texture. The dumplings are dense, yet light, somehow, with a soft, yet deep texture. The thyme marries the mire-poix (the classical French recipe-starter of onion, celery, and carrots) for a much more elegant taste than you might expect after years of the canned or Cracker Barreled stuff.
I added a little extra turmeric for some especially yellow broth, but it’s not necessary.
Chicken and Dumplings
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/2 chicken (we use 2 legs and 2 thighs)
- salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup diced carrots
- 1/4 cup diced celery
- 1/2 medium onion , diced
- 1/4 teaspoon ground thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 3 cups chicken broth (low-sodium)
- 1/4 cup apple cider
- 1/4 cup heavy cream or half-and-half
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1/2 heaping tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 cup half-and-half
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley , optional, for garnish
- salt , to taste
Sprinkle chicken pieces with salt and pepper, then dredge both sides in flour. Melt butter in a pot over medium-high heat. Brown chicken on both sides, about 4 minutes per side, and remove to a clean plate.
In the same pot, add diced onion, carrots, and celery. Stir and cook for 3 to 4 minutes over medium-low heat. Stir in ground thyme and turmeric, then pour in chicken broth and apple cider. Stir to combine, then add browned chicken. Cover pot and simmer for 20-30 minutes.
While chicken is simmering, make the dough for the dumplings: sift together all dry ingredients, then add half-and-half, stirring gently to combine. Set aside.
Remove chicken from pot and set aside on a plate. Use two forks to remove chicken from the bone. Shred, then add chicken to the pot. Pour heavy cream into the pot and stir to combine.
Drop tablespoons of dumpling dough into the simmering pot. Add minced parsley if using.
Cover pot halfway and continue to simmer for 15 minutes. Check seasonings; add salt if needed. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.
Adapted from Ree Drummond at The Pioneer Woman