Recipe Test: Old-Fashioned Chicken & Dumplings

Last Thursday, I had to drive into downtown Portland, which is about 45 minutes away, one way.  My business there was short, but it still kills the better part of an afternoon.  It seemed like a good day to try another recipe from my new current favorite cookbook:

This is a new book out from America's Test Kitchens.  Is there any shame in saying that I've never made this dish?  I was just about to call it "all American", but then I checked Wikipedia, which says the dish is actually French Canadian and that it originated during the Great Depression.  In any case, America's Test Kitchens is my go-to source for well-known dishes that I've never made before, and their version sounded downright yummy.

I'm happy to say that it was fairly easy to get it going in the crock pot and that it was well worth the effort involved.  It was so nice to come home in the afternoon to dinner already made and the house smelling so good.  The "stew" is made up first and then the dumplings are added during the last half hour of cooking time.  The dumplings took about five minutes to whomp up, and then they cooked right in the crock pot.  This is a great meal on a cold rainy day.  No side dishes are required since everything you need for a balanced meal is right in this one delicious bowl of comfort.

And I have to say that if you like using your crock pot, this is an excellent cookbook.  One of the best I've seen in a while.

Old-Fashioned Chicken & Dumplings

Recipe By:  America's Test Kitchens
Serving Size: 6-8  

For the Stew:
3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs -- trimmed
salt and pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 onions -- minced
2 celery ribs -- sliced 1/4" thick
6 garlic cloves -- minced
1 tablespoon  tomato paste
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup dry sherry
4 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth -- plus extra as needed
4 carrots -- peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick
2 bay leaves
1 cup frozen peas
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

For the Dumplings:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter

For the stew:  Dry chicken with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.  Heat one tablespoon oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking.  Brown half of chicken lightly on both sides, 5-8 minutes; transfer to bowl.  Repeat with 1 tablespoon more oil and remaining chicken; transfer to a bowl.

Heat remaining tablespoon oil over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add onions, celery, garlic, tomato paste, and thyme, and cook until vegetables are softened and lightly browned, 8-10 minutes.  Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute.  Slowly whisk in sherry, scraping up any browned bits.  Whisk in 1 cup broth, smoothing out any lumps; transfer to slow cooker.

Stir remaining 3 1/2 cups broth, carrots, and bay leaves into slow cooker.  Nestle browned chicken with any accumulated juice into slow cooker.  Cover and cook until chicken is tender, 4-6 hours on low.

Transfer chicken to cutting board, let cool slightly, then shred into bite-sized pieces.  Set stew settle for 5 minutes, then remove fat from surface using a large spoon.  Discard bay leaves.

Stir shredded chicken, peas, and parsley into stew, and season with salt and pepper to taste.  (Adjust stew consistency with additional hot broth as needed.)  Cover and cook on high until simmering (or transfer stew to Dutch oven and bring to a simmer over medium heat).

For the dumplings:  Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in large bowl.  Microwave milk and butter together until warm (do not overheat), about 1 minute, then whisk to melt butter.  Stir milk mixture into flour mixture until just incorporated and smooth.

Drop golf ball-sized dumplings on top of simmering stew (an ice cream scoop works well for this purpose), leaving about 1/4-inch between each dumpling ( you should have about 18 dumplings).  Cover and cook until dumplings have doubled in size, 25-35 minutes.  Serve.

My notes about the recipe:  There was no way Mike and I alone were going to eat 18 dumplings, and I wasn't sure how well those would keep if left in the stew as leftovers.  So, I halved the recipe for the dumplings, and that was just about the right amount.  Also, my crock pot brought the dish to a technical simmer, but I still didn't think it got hot enough to cook the dumplings really well in 30 minutes.  They were fine, but a little bit soft.  When we had this dish as leftovers last night, I heated it up in my Dutch oven and made more dumplings.  They were firmer, and held their shape better in the stew.  If your crock pot gets hot enough to bring the stew to a boil, then by all means, cook them there.  If not, I suggest making the transfer to the Dutch oven and finishing them up there.  Whatever you decide to do . . . try it!!  It's worth the effort.  You'll be glad you did.

4 comments from clever and witty friends:

Kelli said...

I LOVE chicken and dumplings Barb! :o) Thanks for sharing the recipe. xo

Janet said...

I'm going to pin this recipe and try it sometime. I love chicken stew and I rediscovered dumplings a few months ago.

SoozeM said...

Yummo! When I make my dumplings I mix in a tablespoon of pesto, makes them so yummy!! I have used used a tablespoon of sundried tomato pesto instead of regular and that is also sensational!!

Denise :) said...

Barbara, that looked so good I could almost smell it! And my stomach is *definitely* growling now!! :)