I woke up at 1:17am last night barely able to move. Too cold to move, actually.
Somehow I mustered up the energy to kick my leg back to find Ben – my personal, portable heating unit – but foot met air. Freezing. Cold. Air.
Damnit! I cursed inside my head. He must have fallen asleep on the couch again! As husbands sometimes do.
Too chilled to reach my arm outside of the covers, grab my phone on the nightstand and call him up, and way too cold to actually, you know, get out of bed to go get him, I burrowed deep. Deep into the recesses of my blankets, where I squeezed my eyes shut and tried to will myself back into dreamland.
I was so tired from working out and not sleeping well this weekend that… it worked … But any other day!!
Yes, Fall went out in a blazing 67 degree day of glory a couple weeks ago, and I think it’s now safe to say that it’s officially the season that shall not be named in Iowa.
Flurries seem to be fluttering around at all hours of the of day, static is dominating my life, and all I want is warm carbs. Tonight, to combat the now constant, chilly temps, I made the warmest, most comforting dinner I could think of. A cozy, culinary hug, if you will. Homemade Chicken & Dumplings.
I am obsessed with this dish!!! It takes a little bit of time to make if you’re going the 100% homemade route like I did, but it is so worth the effort!
This ultimate comfort food recipe is broken into two parts:
1. The chicken
2. The dumplings
Bet you didn’t see that one coming…
First we start with the chicken which, after simmering low and slow with aromatic vegetables, produces a savory and luxurious stock, and juicy shredded chicken for the Chicken & Dumplings. You’ll want a 4-5lb fryer chicken for the recipe. Take it out of the wrapping and remove the giblets inside. Don’t be scared.
PS I’m not trying to sound ignorant or anything – but are all chickens sold in grocery store…female? My family and I were having a debate about this at Thanksgiving. We all know hens are female, and roosters are male – but they’re both still considered chickens, right? Some members of the family are claiming that only hens can be called chickens, and thus, are the only ones people eat. Please help.
Chop up the aforementioned aromatic vegetables including onion, celery and carrot.
Place the chicken and veggies into the largest stock or soup pot you’ve got, and pour in enough water to completely cover the chicken.
Simmer the chicken low and slow for an hour, and you’ll be rewarded with this.
The most succulent, juicy, tender chicken you ever did see. Rest him or her (?) on a plate for now.
Turn your attention back to the pot which now contains cups and cups of uber-flavorful, homemade chicken stock. Whee! (I don’t know why, but making/having homemade chicken stock is just about the most thrilling thing ever!)
Line a colander with cheesecloth and strain the stock through it.
I got this cheesecloth from the regular grocery store in the disposable baking dishes and cooking utensils aisle, for about $2.50.
Discard the veggies, and you are left with pure, liquid GOLD my friends!
You should end up with around 12 cups of stock, 8 of which you’ll need for the Chicken & Dumplings.
FYI - after the stock cools, place it in the fridge and the fat will rise to the top and harden. Then you can just remove and discard.
After the chicken has cooled a bit, remove the meat from the bones, and shred it all up. You should get about 6-7 cups total from the chicken, but you’ll only need about 3 for the recipe.
Best chicken I ever had.
Mmmkay. Part 1 = done. Time to turn our attention to part 2 - the dumplings! These puppies are pretty much foolproof. Start with flour, baking powder and salt, then cut in some butter.
You can use a pastry cutter, a fork – or go old school like me and use your fingers. Just squish the flour and butter between your fingers until it’s the texture of cornmeal.
Next, add in enough skim milk so that when you stir the dough with a fork, it comes together in a ball.
Place some of the dough onto a heavily floured surface. As in – no inch of the cutting board should be without a thick dusting of it.
Flour a rolling pin, and roll the dough pretty thin.
Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into approx 2″ x 2″ squares – it doesn’t have to be perfect. I showed my inner Type A THE DOOR with this recipe in regards to the flour mess and imprecise dumpling cutting. I even made Ben come to the kitchen to watch and observe the craziness. He was impressed.
Continue rolling and cutting your dumplings, placing them on a platter. Add a heavy dusting of flour between each layer so they don’t stick together.
Bring the reserved chicken stock up to a boil and drop the dumplings in one by one, gently stirring so they won’t stick together. Don’t be afraid of getting too much flour into the broth – it’ll just make for that much more of a thick and creamy Chicken & Dumplings.
About 10 minutes later the dumplings should be plump and chewy. PERFECT! Stir in the reserved, shredded chicken, add more salt & pepper if necessary, then dish that ‘ish!
Take THAT, winter!
Homemade Chicken & Dumplings
For the chicken:
1, 4-5lb whole fryer chicken, giblets removed
1 medium-sized onion, chopped into large pieces
3 carrots, chopped into large pieces
3 celery stalks, chopped into large pieces
salt & pepper
For the dumplings:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
heavy pinch salt
2 Tablespoons butter (I used Earth Balance)
1 cup milk, maybe a little less (I used skim)
- For the chicken: Place chicken, onion, carrots and celery into a very large soup or stock pot. Add enough water to cover the chicken. Bring to a heavy boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Place a lid on top and cook for an hour, flipping the chicken halfway through. Carefully remove the chicken to a plate.
- Strain the chicken broth through a large strainer lined with cheese cloth. Discard the vegetables and reserve 8 cups broth for the dish. Store the remaining broth in the refrigerator.
- Remove meat off the chicken and shred. Reserve 3 cups for the dish and store the remaining meat in the refrigerator.
- For the dumplings: Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Cut the butter into the flour using a pastry blender, a fork, or your fingers. Add milk about 1/4 cup at a time, stirring between batches, until the dough comes together in a ball.
- Working in batches, place the dough onto a heavily floured work surface. Flour a rolling pin, and roll the dough out thin. Don’t be afraid to keep adding more flour. If you don’t, the dough will stick to the board or counter. Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into approximately 2″ x 2″ squares.
- Flour a large plate or platter to place the dumplings on while you roll and cut out the rest of the dough. Generously sprinkle flour between each layer as you place them on the platter so they don’t stick together.
- For the rest of the dish: Bring 8 cups chicken broth to a boil and add dumplings in one at a time while gently stirring to prevent them from sticking together. Don’t worry about too much flour from the dumplings getting into the broth. The more that gets in there, the thicker the sauce will be.
- Cook dumplings for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally and more often towards the end so they don’t stick to the bottom of the pot. When dumplings are cooked, turn off the heat and add in 3 cups shredded chicken. Season with more salt & pepper to taste, and serve.
I could NOT be more tickled with how well this dish turned out! The broth was thick and creamy, the dumplings were plump and chewy, and the chicken was tender and juicy.
You could totally make this dish in a snap by using store-bought chicken stock and chicken – but taking the time to slow cook the chicken and make your own stock is SO rewarding. A perfect Sunday afternoon activity!
Now if only it weren’t so messy to take chicken & dumplings to bed with you…
Stay warm, and give this dish a try. You’ll LOVE IT!
PS: The Keurig Platinum Brewer Giveaway is open until 12pm central tomorrow. Dang you guys love the ‘rig!
“The ultimate comfort food to me is _______.”