Chicken and dumplings is classic American comfort food. It’s one of those dishes that you just want to curl up with on a cold winter night since it’s hearty, flavorful and can be very easy to make. If you’ve never had it, chicken and dumplings is a lot like chicken soup (very heavy on the chicken) with steamed biscuits floating in it. The chicken and broth portion of the dish already has a comforting, homey flavor to it and adding steamed biscuit dough makes the dish filling and lends a nice buttery flavor to everything.
This version of chicken and dumplings – and you should know that there are as many ways to make this dish as there are ways to make a chocolate chip cookie – is a quick one-dish meal that you can make in less than an hour from start to finish. I start with a whole rotisserie chicken and shred the meat. I make a chicken soup base using onions, carrots, celery, garlic and chicken stock (storebought, but homemade is good if you have it) and add the shredded chicken into it. I make homemade biscuit dough, drop it in small chunks into the boiling soup, then put the lid on the pot and cook everything until the biscuits are soft and tender.
I think that the homemade biscuit dough is the key to this dish. The finished dumplings are so buttery and flavorful, and they even have a bit of a flaky texture to them that you’re not going to get from a can of biscuit dough dropped into the soup. It’s worth noting that you’re not going to get the same kind of rich, buttery flavor from canned dough, either, since most are made with shortening. The dumplings will be done when they are cooked through and fluffy, no raw dough in the center; you will probably have to cut one open to double check and can cook the whole dish a few minutes longer if you need to. It reheats well, but is best fresh!
Chicken and Dumplings
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter, cold
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
40-oz chicken stock
1/2 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper, to taste
3-4 cups cooked, shredded chicken
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Cut butter into four or five chunks and add it to the flour mixture. Rub butter in with your fingertips until mixture has a sandy consistency. Add in buttermilk, stirring with a fork until the dough just comes together. Add an extra tablespoon or two of buttermilk if dough is too dry to come together easily. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, adding a little extra flour if dough is very sticky. Knead lightly for 4-5 minutes. Set aside.
Heat a dutch oven ot large saucepan over medium heat. Add in diced onions, carrots and celery and allow vegetables to sweat for 5-6 minutes, just until onions become translucent. Add garlic and cook for 2 more minutes.
Add chicken stock, thyme, salt and pepper, and chicken to the pot. Cover and bring to a boil.
Break prepared biscuit dough up into ping pong ball-sized pieces (no more than 1 1/2 inches across) and add to chicken soup. Break up all dough, then recover the pot and cook, with the lid on, for about 20 minutes, or until dumplings are cooked through.