Peak-level comfort food! Country-style chicken and dumplings is the ultimate in stick-to-your-ribs cozy dinners. It’s what you want on those chilly nights, your “on the couch with your favorite blanket, warm bowl in one hand and remote in the other” go-to meal. So satisfying, so delicious, with tender chicken and vegetables, fluffy dumplings, and a savory broth. You’re going to love this!
I spent a long time, like a couple of decades, with a phobia of making dumplings. You see, I tried to make chicken and dumplings once, and things went very, very badly. I generally hit more than I miss in the kitchen, but when I miss, it’s spectacular. I almost never fail by a little. The chicken and dumplings fail was EPIC! It was all going fine through the chicken part, but then came the dumplings. I followed the recipe (I thought), dropped spoonfuls of the dough on the top of the broth, put the cover on. Sometime between then and when I lifted the lid again, some evil villain snuck into my kitchen and swapped my beautiful pot of chicken and dumplings for a tub of hot wallpaper paste with pieces of chicken in it. Not a sign of a dumpling in sight! They had completely dissolved into the broth, creating the least appetizing pile of goo I’d ever seen. I felt victimized, to say the least, and never attempted to make them again.
As you can see, things got better once I shook off the idea that I can’t make the dish. I think we all, at one time or another, have a recipe fail and decide we just can’t make that thing and never try again. For a lot of people I know it’s pie crust. Others think they can’t make gravy so they buy the jarred stuff. For me, it was dumplings. And it was silly. I can make soup, I know what a simmer is, and I can make a biscuit-type dough. Those are all of the needed skills. It’s just a matter of putting them together and trying again. Now I get to eat truly fantastic chicken and dumplings! Dig out the recipe for that thing you think you can’t make, or find a new recipe for it. Give it another shot. If it doesn’t work, try to figure out where you took a wrong turn, and try again. (Unless it’s homemade puff pastry. Just buy that. No reason to be a martyr.) But first, let’s make some chicken and dumplings!
- Chicken – There are varying schools of thought when it comes to the chicken in chicken and dumplings. Many people start with a whole chicken because they are cooking the chicken and making a broth at the same time. We’re starting with chicken stock, so that step isn’t needed here. I like to use a combination of chicken legs and thighs. Dark meat chicken has more flavor and is more suited to this kind of low and slow cooking than chicken breasts. A whole chicken includes both white and dark meat, and they cook at different rates. You are welcome to use whichever type of chicken you like best.
- Vegetables – I used the traditional mirepoix, carrots, celery and onions to create the recipe, but that doesn’t mean you’re limited to that set. The world is your oyster here! Be creative, think of similar meals you love and incorporate those flavors. This recipe would be brilliant with leeks and mushrooms instead of the mirepoix, as an example.
- White wine – I use 1/2 cup of dry white wine to deglaze the pan in this recipe. My favorite white wine to cook with is Sauvignon Blanc. I like the flavor better than other varieties. Use your favorite white here, or use what you happen to have. If you cannot, or prefer to avoid, cooking with any kind of alcohol, that’s absolutely fine. Substitute in additional chicken broth or water.
- Chicken stock – Starting with chicken stock saves us about 1.5 hours in making this recipe. Since you’ll be simmering the chicken, vegetables and seasonings in the stock for about an hour, you’re still going to have a rich homemade flavor. When you look for a chicken broth or chicken stock at the supermarket, look for low-sodium. Regular boxed chicken broth is really very salty. You can always add more to a recipe if it needs it. You can’t take it out.
- Buttermilk – Buttermilk gives a great flavor to the dumplings. If you don’t have any, make some! Put 1 tsp of lemon juice or white vinegar in a measuring cup. Fill with milk to the 1/3 cup line, stir and wait 5 or 10 minutes. The milk will thicken and sour from the acid in the lemon juice and work just perfectly for these dumplings.
How to Make Country Style Chicken and Dumplings
- Heat vegetable oil in a Dutch oven. I use about a tablespoon of oil to brown the chicken. Since we’re using chicken legs and thighs for this recipe, they will render a good amount of fat, but a little oil in the bottom of your pot will help the initial batch of chicken to not stick. I really recommend an enameled cast iron Dutch oven for chicken and dumplings, and for a lot of other meals like it. Cast iron is great for heat retention, so when you put cold chicken in the pot, it doesn’t cool off. A Dutch oven will stay hot for a long time, and cook gently and evenly. The enameled coating makes it easier to clean than uncoated cast iron, nonreactive with acidic foods, and it does not need to be seasoned. The one you see in the pictures is a Le Creuset 7 1/4 Quart Dutch Oven. It’s fabulous to cook in, beautiful, durable, and my grandchildren will likely cook in it. It is also not inexpensive. It’s a serious investment. Another great option is the Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven. It’s also beautiful, great to cook in, and made of cast iron with all of its benefits. And it costs less than $100.
- Brown the chicken – Pat the chicken pieces dry. This helps the skin brown. That brown skin will add flavor while it simmers, and the browning step helps build the fond, the brown stuff stuck to the bottom of the pot that makes everything delicious when you dissolve it into your broth. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Brown in the Dutch oven in batches, turning occasionally, until the chicken is a nice golden brown. For 4 pounds of legs and thighs, I needed to do 2 batches, but that may differ based on the size of the pot you’re using. Remove chicken and set aside.
- Saute the vegetables – Drain the fat out of the pot into a measuring cup. Put 1/4 c back in. We’re going to use the fat to make a roux in a couple of steps so yes, you really do need that much. Saute the onions, celery and carrots for 4-5 minutes until the onions start to soften. Keep an eye on the fond on the bottom of the pot, and lower the flame if you think you’re in danger of that fond burning. Brown, even fairly dark brown is good. Black is bad. Once the vegetables have sauteed, add in the flour and stir into the fat and vegetables to form a roux. This is going to help thicken our broth. Cook for 2 minutes until light brown.
- Deglaze the pan. Add white wine (or additional chicken stock or water) into the pot and scrape up the fond on the bottom of the pot. Let that dissolve into the wine, and keep cooking until the wine has almost completely evaporated. Stir in your chicken stock, herbs and seasoning.
- Simmer for 1 hour. Return the chicken to the pot and cover. Simmer for about an hour until the chicken is cooked and the celery and carrots are tender. If you like your vegetables with a bit more bite to them, you can go as short as 45 minutes. I like my carrots soft in a soup or stew, and to tell the truth, I don’t like the texture of celery at all, so I want it to cook down as much as possible. It brings a lot of flavor but it has to be very soft for me to want to eat it.
- Remove and shred the chicken. Take the chicken pieces out of the pot and set aside to cool long enough for you to be able to handle them. Once you can, remove the skin, take the meat off of the bones, and shred into bite sized pieces. Add it back into your pot. Check your seasoning at this point. You likely won’t need additional salt, but you may want to make sure. A bit more pepper may be needed depending on your tastes.
- While you wait for the chicken to cool, make your dumpling dough. Whisk together your dry ingredients in one bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients in another, and then add the wet to the dry and fold. You don’t want to overwork this dough, or your dumplings won’t be airy and tender. They’ll be tough, and that’s not delicious. It should look like a rough, sticky dough:
- Drop dumpling dough onto the top of the broth and vegetables, leaving a good bit of space in between. These expand a lot when they cook, so you want to give them some space.
- Simmer, covered for 25 minutes. Don’t take the lid off! The bottom part of the dumpling is cooking in the simmering liquid, but the top part is steamed. Removing the lid makes this take a lot longer, and can overcook the bottom part of your dumplings. You want this to simmer, NOT BOIL. This is where it all went wrong for me all those years ago. A boil will break down your delicate little dumplings, dissolving them in the broth and breaking your chicken-and-dumpling-loving heart. Been there. Here’s what you’re looking for. A nice little bubble, but no serious action:
- Check after about 25 minutes to see if your dumplings are cooked. They should look cooked through on the inside, with a texture similar to a biscuit. If you cut a dumpling open and there is still uncooked dough in the center, return it to the pot and simmer covered for another 5 minutes.
- Serve and enjoy!
A dinner this good definitely deserves to be followed up with a great dessert! Take a look at our Pear Maple Upside Down Cake. It’s a perfect finale to this cozy fall or winter supper.
Country Style Chicken and DumplingsCourse: Chicken, Fall, Main Dishes, Recipe, Soups and Stews, WinterCuisine: American
Country-style chicken and dumplings is the ultimate in stick-to-your-ribs cozy dinners. So satisfying, so delicious, with tender chicken and vegetables, fluffy dumplings, and a savory broth. You’re going to love this!
1 tbsp vegetable oil
4 lbs of chicken legs, thighs, or a combination
salt and pepper
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
2 stalks of celery, trimmed and sliced
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
6 cups chicken stock (homemade or low-sodium)
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried marjoram
1/2 to 1 tsp black pepper, to taste
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/3 cup buttermilk
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- Heat oil in Dutch oven or large pot.
- Pat chicken pieces dry, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
- Brown chicken in batches, turning to brown all sides. Remove from pot and set aside.
- Drain fat from pot, and return 1/4 cup to pot. Saute onions, carrots and celery until onions soften. Add white wine and deglaze fond from the bottom of the pot, stirring to release it and dissolve. Cook until wine is almost entirely evaporated.
- Add flour and stir to create a roux. Cook 2-3 minutes until the roux starts to brown. Add chicken stock to pot and stir to combine. Return chicken pieces to pot, cover, and simmer 1 hour.
- Remove chicken from pot and set aside until cool enough to handle. When cool, remove skin from chicken, remove the chicken from the bones, and shred into bite sized pieces.
- While chicken cools, make the dumplings. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in one bowl.
- Whisk together egg, buttermilk and melted butter in another bowl. Add to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
- Once the chicken has been shredded, return it to the pot and test for seasoning. Add any additional salt or pepper to taste. Bring contents of the pot back to a simmer.
- Drop dumpling dough on the top of the simmering broth by tablespoons, leaving space between. The dumplings will expand as they cook.
- Simmer covered for 25 minutes and then check dumplings to ensure that they are cooked through.
- Serve and enjoy!
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