Chicken and Dumplings – from Scratch

Bubbling hot, creamy chunky chicken stew with islands of fluffy dumplings! The best on a cold winter’s night.

If you are like me, there are those winter days that you feel like spending some serious kitchen time cooking up something satisfying and “warmy” (grandkids’ phrase).   Put the beginnings of this delicious stew on the stove right after lunch on a lazy Sunday.  Over the course of a short winter’s afternoon, your house will smell delicious and your family will have something to look forward to when it gets dark at 4:30 🙂

This recipe is NOT difficult to execute, but it does stretch the concept of “EZ” because it has lots of steps and is time-consuming.  But the benefit of making everything from scratch (besides the yumminess) is you get a low-salt meal made with fresh ingredients and no artificial anything.

In the near future, I will  post a quicker, EZ-er (yet less healthy, inevitably) version of this meal using store-bought chicken stock, rotisserie chicken and perhaps biscuit mix, but I have to play around with the ingredients for that one.  So here is a from-scratch recipe to try the next time you’re stuck indoors looking for something (yummy) to do.

INGREDIENTS

Chicken stock
4-5 pounds whole raw chicken, cut up
3-4 quarts water (96-128 oz, just enough to cover everything)
2 medium brown onions, roughly chopped into large pieces
3-4 large carrots, roughly chopped
4 large celery ribs, roughly chopped
8 garlic gloves, roughly chopped

Stew
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup chopped celery (about 2 ribs)
1 cup chopped brown onion (about a half of a large onion)
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup baby red potatoes, halved
3 cloves garlic, diced
1 teaspoon no-salt poultry seasoning (I like McCormick)
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp celery salt
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup frozen baby peas
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
optional: chopped cilantro or parsley

Dumplings
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon Truvia baking sugar blend
1 teaspoon salt
2 -3 tablespoons cold butter
1/2 – 1 cup any milk
optional: 1 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped

DIRECTIONS

1. Make the stock:

Cover chicken (discard neck and innards), onions, celery, and garlic with water in a large stockpot (chicken may “float” a little; just barely cover like below).

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Bring to a simmer over just-below medium heat  (this should take about an hour; lower the heat if it comes to a simmer too quickly). Maintaining a very gentle simmer (you may need to lower the heat again), cook for 1 hour 30 minutes.

Remove pot from heat. Strain the liquid through a colander or a mesh strainer; discard vegetables. Set chicken aside to cool. When chicken is cool enough to touch, remove bones and skin and discard. Chop meat into bite-sized pieces.

2. Make the stew:

In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat half cup (stick) of butter over medium high heat until butter is melted and foaming.

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Add celery, onion, carrots and potatoes and saute over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until onion is translucent and veggies begin to soften, about 5 to 8 minutes. In the last couple of minutes, stir in the garlic.

Remove veggies from heat and stir in poultry seasoning, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and salt. Stir in flour until veggies are completely coated.

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Return pot to medium high heat and slowly stir in the first cup or two of hot chicken stock, to avoid lumps. Once mixture is smooth, carefully stir in the remainder of the stock. Add chicken, peas, and bay leaf. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Bring to a boil.

While stew comes to a boil:

3. Make the dumplings. You can stir them in a bowl, or mix in a food processor:

Bowl: Stir together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in medium size bowl. Cut in 2 tblsp butter with a knife or pastry cutter until crumbly; if dough is too dry to form small beads, cut in another tblsp of butter. Stir in parsley if using, and enough milk to make a soft dough (start with half a cup; add a little at a time until the dough just makes a ball).

Food processor: Add the flour, salt, baking powder, sugar, 2 tblsp butter, and the parsley (if using) and pulse a few seconds until crumbly. If mixture is too dry to form small beads, pulse in another tblsp of butter. Add 1/2 cup of the milk, and pulse just until the dough pulls together as a ball- if needed add more milk just until the dough forms a ball.

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Stir cilantro/parsley into stew if using. Drop 8-10 spoonfuls of dumpling batter into boiling stew. (You can avoid the batter sticking to your spoon if you dip the spoon into the hot stew in between spoonfuls of dumpling.)

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Cover and simmer 10 -15 minutes, until dumplings look set and a little dry on top (keep it covered!).

Ladle stew and dumplings into bowls and serve.  You can store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.  Serves 8-10, depending on serving size.

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