Some of you may know my deep and oft-professed love for the wonderful southern dish: Chicken and Dumplings. If you don’t, I’m going to tell you a little about it right now.
There is really nothing more truly amazing than a dish that is creamy and luxurious without any cream in it at all – it blows my mind. Little soft pillows of dumpling that get coated in rich sauce with chunks of tender chicken all dotted through. It really and truly warms you right to your toes. And when you go back for seconds, you somehow wake up hours later on the couch. “Where am I?! What happened?! Oh.. damn, it was the chicken again. Zzz”
The best chicken and dumplings I’ve ever had were at Dish in Charlotte, North Carolina (another fabulous DDD stop). When I started making my own at home, I discovered that their recipe was online (what?! Amazing.) From there, my recipe has morphed into a sort of Frankenstein’s Monster of C&D recipes that somehow come out just exactly the way I want it.
What makes mine a little different is the lightness of the dumplings (ok they're not my recipe, but the combination with the other stuff makes it really amazing) and the fact that I add veggies to my stock and back into the final dish. Trust me, you want those veggies, they make everything a little tastier and give you vitamins too!
Now, you can keep reading, and you can make this dish, oh yes, but I will warn you, if you don’t serve it with hot and steamy peas, I’ll know (I promise.) Peas make chicken and dumplings sing. Don’t like peas? There’s something wrong with you. I’m just sayin’
Ok, here we go:
|Look how creamy! and no milk!|
Chicken and Dumplings BBC Style:
Chicken and Stock:
- 1 whole chicken, spatchcocked (cut down either side of the spine and splay mr chicken out like he’s been hit by a car). – demo here:
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped (all veggies should be roughly chopped into big bite sized pieces)
- 3 cloves of garlic, peeled
- Salt and Pepper
- 4 cups (ish) of cold water
Dumplings (recipe from cooks.com):
- 2 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons cold butter
- 1 cup buttermilk
Roux and Bringin’ it all home:
- ½ cup butter
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2/3 cup flour (ish)
- Salt, pepper, hot sauce
Basically this recipe takes a long time, but really isn’t that complicated.
Turn a big pot on medium high heat and let it get good and hot. Add some vegetable oil (or your favourite cooking oil) to the bottom of the pan until it gets that shimmer. You want your oil super hot so that the heat seals the juices of the chicken in and gives you that nice caramelization (which means flavour). Season the chicken with salt and pepper and then sear it on both sides until it’s a little crispy (but definitely not cooked). Pour the cold water over the bird until it is completely covered (more liquid means that you can potentially feed more people with less chicken, so make that call yourself). Pop in the chopped veggies.
Bring it up to a slow simmer (no big rolling bubbles please!) and watch it for the first 15 minutes. Sometimes gunk and fat comes to the surface at this point and you need to skim it off with a ladle (no big deal). Finish cooking it for another 45 minutes (total 60 minutes for those keeping score at home) or until your meat thermometer reads 180 in a big meaty part of the chicken.
Strain the hot stock through a colander and save the chicken and veggies for later.
While the chicken is cooking away, you can start your dumplings. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl and then use a cheese grater to grate the butter into said bowl (the butter has to be really cold for this!). Then use a pastry blender or a fork to cut in the butter and mix it with the flour and other good stuff. Pour in the buttermilk and mix with a fork until you really can’t wait to use your hands, and then smoosh it into a ball.
|It takes serious skill to make dumplings that uneven.|
Roll the dumpling dough out onto a floured surface until it is about ¼ inch thick (think like a cracker) and cut into bit size rectangles.
Cut the meat off of the chicken (sampling as you go along. Mmm chicken.)
Put your pot back on the stove and turn the heat to medium (yes, you can use the same pot). Add the butter and olive oil and cook until the mixture stops bubbling, then add your flour. Stir this constantly until you start to smell roasting nuts a little or it turns a golden colour.
Here’s where you have to listen up, because lumpy sauce is bad sauce: add a ladleful of your still warm stock and stir it into the roux. Keep adding ladlefuls until the sauce is more liquid than paste and then add the rest of your stock. Bring to a simmer.
Here is where you should taste the gravy in order to adjust for seasoning. I will tell you that this sauce takes a lot of salt and pepper and some hot sauce to bring it up to where you want it, so don’t be afraid.
Once it tastes great, add the back the chicken, veggies and the dumplings. Cook for 10-15 minutes and serve over hot peas.
Cook’s note: this recipe (as with all C&D recipes) is much better the second day. But I can never wait. Neither should you.
This is also perfect for freezing and eating in your lunch. But be prepared for jealousy from your coworkers and really, really satisfied midnight cravings.