Did you know that there are at least three ways of making the dumplings for Chicken and Dumplings? My Mother used to use biscuit dough and the dumplings she made were soft and fluffy. My husband’s grandmother made dumplings that were big and almost noodle-like. Then my own Grandmother’s take on dumplings was to make them very, very thin and even closer to being noodley.
I’ve made all three types and my favorite, also my family’s favorite, are the large, flat dumplings that aren’t thin enough to be called a noodle.
And did you know that Chicken and Dumplings don’t make good photos? They look kind of yuck in pictures but I’ll do my best.
To begin your chicken and dumplings you need to cook some chicken and keep the cooking water/broth to cook your dumplings in. Use the best chicken you can find and be sure to use the whole chicken not just white meat so that your broth will be as flavorful as possible. Don’t take the skin off the meat either. Chicken and Dumplings are a high fat, high carb meal. So use good fats in it, healthy chicken.
Bring a pot of water to a boil, add the chicken or chicken pieces, lower the heat. Add a carrot, one stalk of celery, one small peeled onion, about 6 black peppercorns and about a teaspoon of salt. Cover the pot and allow it to cook til the chicken is falling off the bone.
Once the chicken is done and very tender, you can take the pot off the heat and the chicken out of the broth to cool. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, take all the meat off the bones. Keep the bones to make some more good bone broth. Take all the skin and cartilage pieces off the meat as well.
Pull the meat into shreds or bite sized pieces and then add all the meat back to the broth. Remove what you can of the carrot, celery and onion. They make a good snack.
Now determine if you need more broth. It depends on how many people you want to serve. If you have enough from where you’ve cooked the chicken, that’s fine. If not, add some more good chicken stock to the pot.
Taste the broth and add salt or pepper to taste.
Make The Dumplings
2 cups plain flour
1 Tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup buttermilk
You can easily double or triple this dumpling recipe. I usually make three recipes of it for about 4 or 5 quarts of broth.
Mix everything together into a soft dough. Once you have a ball of dough, let it rest for 10 minutes. Then cut the dough into pieces about the size of a tennis ball and roll each piece out to about 1/4 inch thick on a well-floured surface. The flour keeps the dough from sticking to your work surface but it also helps your dumpling broth to get thick.
Use a pizza cutter or a knife to cut the rolled dough into big square or rectangle shaped dumplings.
Bring your broth to a rolling boil. Gently add dumplings one at a time to the boiling broth. Gently push the dumplings down under the broth. They’ll pop back up and that’s ok, but they need that initial dunking.
Once all the dumplings are in the broth, lower the heat to a simmer. Cover the pot and allow the dumplings to cook, stirring gently every now and then.
After about 10 minutes you can take out a dumpling and test for doneness. Be careful not to burn your mouth.
HINT: Leave lots of flour on the dumplings after you cut them out, the flour helps to thicken the broth. If your broth isn’t thick enough for you, you can thicken it up easily. Mix together 4 tablespoons of flour and some water to make a paste about the consistency of buttermilk. Next, put some of the boiling broth in the bowl of flour and water and stir it up, then pour it into the boiling broth. Stir well. Let it cook a little bit and it will thicken.