Chicken and Dumplings was created during the Great Depression: money was tight back then, and it's an excellent way to stretch ingredients so that the meal feeds a crowd. It's a simple and basic recipe that is economical and can be elegant as well. The dumplings are basically a biscuit dough that are dropped into boiling chicken stock. To update this classic dish, I added herbs to the dumplings to give them an extra layer of flavor. I used chives, thyme, marjoram, and lemon zest. This will serve a crowd, and is a wonderful meal that is filling and delicious. Nothing fancy here -- just basic food. I spent very little, the chicken being the costliest component but still a bargain when you think about the breakdown on a cost per person basis. Almost everything else used in this recipe is something most of us have in our refrigerator or pantry.
The total cost for the meal was approximately $20 making it less than $5 per person and the ingredients for dumplings were already in my pantry. You can adapt this dish to your own needs and taste. —sdebrango
Test Kitchen Notes
This is a very satisfying dish, and a good reminder that old-fashioned meals of the sort Grandma grew up on can stand the test of time. I was pleasantly surprised by the stew's gentle savor, and most especially its hint of sweetness from the parsnip and carrot. The lemon zest and chives in the dumpling batter added zing. And yes, we had plenty of biscuit dough left over for tomorrow's breakfast. A winner. —mitschlag
6 to 8, depending on serving size
For the Chicken and Vegetables
whole chicken, approximately 3 to 5 pounds
8 to 10 cups
water (if you happen to have stock, you can use that instead of water)
carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds or at an angle
large onion, chopped into small pieces
stalks celery, sliced
parsnip, peeled and sliced into rounds or at an angle
Salt and pepper to taste
The Dumplings and Finishing the Dish
plus 2 teaspoons baking powder
cold vegetable shortening
cold butter (I used salted, but unsalted is fine)
milk (whole is preferable, but 1 or 2% is fine)
Wash the chicken and place in a pot or dutch oven. Pour in water, season with salt, and bring to a boil on high. Reduce heat to medium high, and keep at a low boil until chicken is tender; it takes approximately 1 to 2 hours. Note: if using water, I boil the chicken for about 2 hours so that the broth is tastier.
Remove chicken from pot and set aside to cool; pour broth into a container. Add a small amount of olive oil to the bottom of the pot, add the onion and saute until they soften. Add the celery, carrot, and parsnip, and saute until the vegetables begin to soften. The onion will be translucent. Add the broth back to the pot and simmer for approximately 30 to 40 minutes, just until the vegetables are tender.
While the vegetables are cooking in the broth, remove the meat and skin from the chicken. Set them aside, covered, and start the biscuit dough.
The Dumplings and Finishing the Dish
In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, herbs and lemon zest. Cut in the vegetable shortening and butter until it resembles peas. Add the milk and mix just until combined. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface, knead for a minute or two, and pat into a disc approximately 1/2 inch thick. I use the smallest biscuit cutter or a cordial glass to cut the dough into small, round shapes.
Bring the broth and vegetables to a boil and drop in the dumplings. Don't overcrowd, as you don't want the dumplings to absorb all the liquid (you can always bake the remaining biscuit dough or make pot pies from the leftovers). Boil the dumplings in the broth for approximately 10 to 15 minutes; they will thicken the soup substantially and will partially break down a bit.
Season to taste with salt and pepper, add the chicken, and serve. I like to garnish with chopped parsley and/or a few snips of chives.
NOTE: I normally would not knead biscuit dough -- as a matter of fact, it is supposed to be handled as little as possible. But for this recipe, I wanted to develop the gluten so the dumplings don't fall apart when cooking. I found that about a minute of gentle kneading helped hold the dumplings together.
I have loved to cook for as long as I can remember, am self taught learning as I go. I come from a large Italian family and food was at the center of almost every gathering. My grandfather made his own wine and I remember the barrels of wine in the cellar of my grandfathers home, I watched my mother and aunts making homemade pasta and remember how wonderful it was to sit down to a truly amazing dinner. Cooking for me is a way to express myself its my creative outlet. I enjoy making all types of food but especially enjoy baking,
I live in Brooklyn, NY, and I share my home with my two dogs Izzy and Nando.
I like to collect cookbooks and scour magazines and newspapers for recipes. I hope one day to organize them.