Want to know how to make chicken and dumplings? Sit back, relax, and let the master tell you how it’s done.
In the fall of 2013, I wrote a Chicken and Dumplings recipe. I wouldn’t say I was the biggest fan. Like meatloaf, Chicken and Dumplings is one of those dishes that is either on regular rotation in your childhood home or not. In my house, it was not. Not that any of us had anything against chicken, dumplings, or chicken and dumplings, it just never got on the list.
So when I went to write the recipe, I had some soul searching to do. What was this thing I aimed to make? A soup? A stew? Or something in between: Thin enough to require a spoon but sticky with the intent to warm its eater to the bone. And the dumplings: It was a simple question of noodle or biscuit. And, being the lazy cook that I am, I chose an easy drop biscuit over a more finicky pasta dough.
Chicken and Dumplings, like so many classic recipes, is subject to great debate, and strong opinions. But, having no long-held beliefs about the dish I was able to create what thousands of people now make on heavy rotation. It’s always been my dream to serve, to feed the masses. I just had no idea it would be with this Classic Chicken and Dumplings recipe.
This recipe (like so many soups and stews) is really just a simple braise: You brown the chicken (skin on chicken thighs in this case for maximum flavor), cook some vegetables in the drippings (your classic mirepoix), add liquid (water), flavorings (thyme and bay), and simmer until the meat is super tender. You then thicken the mixture with a simple slurry, that is, a mixture of flour and water. Add that back into the simmering base and watch as it turns from soupy to “chicken and dumplings-y”. But don’t worry, if you’re after a thinner soup-like base, than by all means skip this step.
But the dumplings you will not skip. “How to make dumplings” is half of the reason you ended up here in the first place. Making the dumplings is easy, you just whisk together some dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt), add butter and buttermilk, and dollop the dough on top of your chicken stew mixture. But here’s where you have options that other recipes don’t tell you about.
My beef is that the dumplings kind of turn out like matzo balls. Which is fine in matzo ball soup OR chicken and dumplings, if that’s your thing. But, you can easily turn these dumplings into BISCUITS. Preheat the oven to 350°. When you get to step 4 (go ahead and navigate over to the recipe. I’ll wait), instead of covering the pot and simmering the dumplings, transfer the cooking vessel to the oven and bake, uncovered, until the dumplings... er biscuits, uh, dumplings, whatever... are golden brown on top. You have now turned your chicken and dumplings into a chicken and dumplings cobbler (which I am off to build for the internet right now!)
While I’m at it, go ahead and bookmark my Classic Chicken and Dumplings recipe. It's a guaranteed winner.