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Chicken and Dumplings

A very simple straight forward way to make basic chicken and dumplings. The star here are the dumplings, which are light, fluffy and full of flavor.

BLOG POSTINGS > Everyday Meals

Chicken and Dumplings

by zirbirt

I have a pretty old, very simple recipe for chicken and dumplings. I thought, everyone knows how to make these, so I decided to cruise online recipes to see if I could get any unique ideas on how to kick it up a few notches.

What I discovered was shocking, to say the least. First off many recipes wanted me to use canned condensed soup in my broth. Really? I am going to make homemade soup and add canned soup to it.. why even bother making home made soup? That wasn't the most shocking thing to me. The most shocking was how none of them described real dumplings (drop dumplings that is).

I kid you not, most recipes used a biscuit style dough and just dropped it into the pot. Even worse, some proposed canned biscuit dough as being a suitable alternative to dumplings. I didn't need to make any of these recipes to know how they would turn out. Thick, salty, flavorless broth, with lumpy, chewy, dense, flavorless dumplings... and virtually no real chicken flavor anywhere to be found.

My opinion regarding chicken and dumplings, the broth can be thickened. It can also contain vegetables, or other flavorings, of course.. but those should not mask the flavor of the chicken, they should accentuate it. The dumplings should be light, fluffy, almost airy. They should melt in your mouth, not chew like gum. They should add flavor and character to your broth.. Most importantly at all times you should be tasting chicken.

So, I rethought how I wanted to do this recipe. I decided I wanted to scale back my chicken and dumplings to the most basic components... Chicken and Dumplings. The thing is, even at it's most basic, proper chicken and dumplings is a wonderfully delicious meal.

Here are my ingredients

The Broth:
1 whole chicken (no giblets or necks)
enough water to cover chicken in a large pot
1 Tbs salt
several grinds of pepper

The Dumpling:
6 Tbs butter
1 cup flour
4 Eggs
1 tsp salt
a few grinds of pepper

Ok, take a moment and absorb what you're seeing above. This isn't a "starter" recipe. This is ALL that is needed to make wonderful chicken and dumplings. Yeah, you can add more to it.. you can kick it up, but you do not need to. Trust me, this is delicious with just the above. I will, of course, talk about some ways you can spruce it up a bit, or make variations.. Just don't feel like anything except the above is required.

It all starts with a chicken... and lets think about this from a cost perspective. This batch will easily feed 6 people. The only ingredient you might not have is a chicken, and you can get a whole chicken for about $6. You don't need a roasting hen or anything like that, a nice cheap stewing hen is just fine for chicken and dumplings.

Starting the Broth
(2 1/2 hours on stove, or 6 hours in crock pot, or 45 minutes in the pressure cooker)

I always choose the stove top method for this, so that is how I will explain it.

First, I unpack my chicken and remove any giblets. These will not be used in this recipe, so feel free to feed them to the cats or use them for something else. I then rinse my chicken under cold water, inside and out.. and stick it in my large pot.

I then fill my pot with water until the chicken is fully covered and just begins to float a little.

Then I put my pot on the stove.. I add in 1 Tbs of salt and about 6-8 grinds of black pepper (or 1-2 tsp)

Ok, so at this point, if you want to add flavor to the broth, you can. Anything you add at this point should be removed though when we strain the broth, so if your wanting nice lumps of celery and carrots in your final dish, do not add them now.. however, if you wanted to add the earthiness of carrots or the flavor of celery to your broth, by all means, add it in.

I put the lid on the pot, and set my burner to high.. until this comes to a full boil. Watch it closely, with the lid on, it can boil over pretty easily. You can usually hear when the water is just about to boil, so pay attention to the sound, then start paying attention to the boil.

Once it is fully boiling, drop the heat to low (like 1)... and walk away.

Check in about 10 mins to make sure it is still boiling, if it isn't bring the heat up a bit and check again in 10 mins. Otherwise.. walk away, take a nap, whatever.

After 2 1/2 hours at a boil, our broth is cooked, and our chicken is super tender.

All the fat, marrow, and connective tissue from the chicken is now in our water. This is what broth is.

Remove the chicken and set it aside to let it rest and cool. It will likely fall apart, so just fish out what you can with tongs.

Next up, take your metal strainer and place it over a large bowl. Then just pour everything in the pot through the strainer.

You might notice I have little tiny bits of this or that in my broth. I am actually fine with that and feel it brings character to the final meal. If you want a prefect broth, just put some cheesecloth in the strainer before filtering.

If you added carrots or celery or maybe an herb bundle.. it should now be in the strainer and headed to the trash.

You may have some chicken left in the bottom of your pot, just add that to the rest of the chicken.

Rinse out the pot.. then pour your broth back in, and bring it back to a boil.

At this point your broth is done. You can eat it as is, right now.. and really enjoy it. You might be interested in upgrading it a little bit... to your taste.

To make it Thicker and creamier, just take 2 Tbs of four, along with 3 Tbs of milk.. combine and pour into your boiling broth, then let it boil for about 5 minutes.

If you want a nice chunky soup, just add in vegetables that will not overpower the chicken. So carrots, potatoes and celery are a good choice.. Add them in and let it boil until they are tender.

Before you start tweaking though, take 1 cup of the broth, and put it in a saucepan, over medium heat.

Add in 6 Tbs of butter.

Once the butter is fully melted, you can add in 1/2 tsp of salt, some pepper and any other seasonings you might want (I added a little parsley).

Now toss in 1 cup of flour and mix until it becomes a ball.

Dump your ball into a bowl and hit it with an electric mixer.. It will break up and look all funky.

add in your eggs, one at a time, mixing for about 2 minutes per egg. It should turn into a smooth paste.

Now, just take a scooper or a teaspoon, and drop the dough into the boiling broth. (if your modifying your broth, do this after the modifications are all done). Remember these will still puff up, so don't make them too big.

Once your dumplings are in, just close the lid and let it sit for about 10 minutes.

While your waiting for the dumplings, you can pull the meat off your chicken. This should be really easy. I just set the bones and skin aside, and focus on collecting as much meat as I can.

After 10 minutes, lift your lid to reveal..

Now, just take a handful of chicken and put it in a bowl.. then scoop on some dumplings and broth..

I like to add some pepper and diced onions on top..

That is it.. It really is a super simple dinner to make, and it really does not need any extra tuning. If you have never made it like this before, I suggest you try it one time (a $6 chicken isn't too big of an investment).. and then figure out where you would like to take it from there.

Hope you enjoyed this posting.. Thanks for reading!

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