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