Friday, December 10, 2010

Chicken & Dumplings - An American Classic from America's Test Kitchen

I'm going to tell you about this Chicken 'N Dumplings dish that I made a few weeks ago.  It's gone, by the way.  In fact, this huge pot of deliciousness was mostly eaten by my boys in two days.  I'd say that this recipe was a success, because they asked for more.  I wasn't sure what to expect, by the way. Why? Because I've never tasted this classic American dish, let alone made this dish.  I happened to catch an episode of America's Test Kitchen and I was impressed with how easy the show made this look to make.   To me, this is really like making homemade chicken soup, with dumplings instead of noodles. Out of curiosity, I asked my husband if he'd ever had Chicken and Dumplings.  He replied that his mother used to make it, and I noticed a faraway look of longing in his eyes.  I decided to see if I could make his childhood dish, because I adore him.

 Carrots, celery and onion are prepped and ready to go.

The only item I needed to buy were chicken thighs-- which are much less expensive than the chicken breasts that I usually buy.  Here we go:

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. (I love my splatter screen. It makes cleanup just a little nicer.) The most time-consuming part of this recipe, was searing the chicken in batches.  Five pounds of chicken thighs is a lot!
Add half of the chicken and cook until golden on both sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and remove the browned skin. Pour off the chicken fat and reserve. Return the pot to medium-high heat and repeat with the remaining 2 teaspoons oil and the remaining chicken. Pour off and reserve any chicken fat.

 Transfer the chicken to a plate and remove the browned skin.


Add the butter to the Dutch oven and melt over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, celery, onion, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook until softened, about 7 minutes.

 

Stir in  flour. 

Whisk in sherry (I used a dry white wine), scraping up any browned bits. Stir in the broth, milk, thyme, and bay leaves.
Nestle the chicken, with any accumulated juices, into the pot. Cover and simmer until the chicken is fully cooked and tender, about 1 hour.

 Transfer the chicken to a cutting board. Discard the bay leaves. Allow the sauce to settle for a few minutes, then skim the fat from the surface using a wide spoon. Shred the chicken, discarding the bones, then return it to the stew. NOTE: I used a disposable glove to make easier work of shredding the thicken.

Time to make dumplings...

Cook's Illustrated suggests using only whole milk, by the way.  (You can substitute unsalted butter if you don't want to use chicken fat.) 

Stir the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Microwave the milk and fat in a microwave-safe bowl on high until just warm (do not over-heat), about 1 minute. Stir the warmed milk mixture into the flour mixture with a wooden spoon until incorporated and smooth.  Have frozen peas and fresh parsley at the ready...

Return the stew to a simmer, stir in the peas and parsley, and season with salt and pepper. Following the photos below, drop golf-ball-sized dumplings over the top of the stew, about 1/4 inch apart (you should have about 18 dumplings). 

Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the dumplings have doubled in size, 15 to 18 minutes. 
NOTE: I found that I had to rotate the dumplings, as some were "gummy" for a few minutes longer than others. I think a tight-fitting lid helps, and I did peek a time or two. Shhhhh. It's time to serve. I had to check out the inside of my first American dumpling.  Would it be fluffy inside, as Cook's Illustrated promised?

Yes! (Sigh of relief.)

VERDICT:  This is a stew.  It's a chicken soup, made thicker.  The dumplings were fluffy-- though I wish I had gone with my intuition to add fresh chives.  I also think buttermilk would be a great alternative to using whole milk.  Would I make this again? Ask my boys! Yes, yes, yes!  It's hearty. It's comforting.  If I skip the dumplings for myself, it's pretty healthy too. 

'Nuff said.

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Blessings,



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27 comments:

Susan said...

Debby, your chicken and dumplings look wonderful. Now take care of yourself and make sure your health in #1 priority. I have been borderline diabetic for a few years but last month, my blood sugar was very normal. Just trying to stay on top of it all. Glad your son is doing better.

From the Kitchen said...

Debby: Good to hear from you and know that your son is doing well. I can only imagine how frightening it was for you! I'm also glad to hear that you are taking better care of yourself. It's something we all need to do a better job at. I'll be looking forward to hearing how you handle your challenge. I know it will be in a delicious way!

Best,
Bonnie

Sean Grey Hanson said...

I have heard of these, but have never made them.

Terry Herald said...

Thank Heavens you guys are alright!!
Juvenile Diabetes Foundation has been
a personal charity of mine for many years. Hey, if you post some tasty stuff that's good for you, maybe we will ALL lose a little weight. I have been on the Christmas goodie bake-a-thon for a week now. but giving most of it away. Everyone has come to expect the goodies.
Take care

Bonnie B in Santa Ynez said...

You do such a wonderful job explaining your recipes; the photos are so helpful. I look forward to your future blogs and recipes - I could definitely benefit from healthier food suggestions as I am the junk food queen. I am relieved to hear your son is okay, and sending best wishes to you and your resolve to stay on the good side of Type II.

Proud Italian Cook said...

You've been through alot Deb, I'm so glad your son is doing better. I look forward to healthier recipes here, I sure as heck need to be eating better! I made cookies and biscotti yesterday and I've been taste testing way too many! Keep up the good work you're inspiring me!

Tina G said...

I'm glad to hear that your son is doing better.
I, too, have Type 2 diabetes. Since I was diagnosed 6 years ago I've lost a lot of weight and I am down to one dose of meds a day instead of two. Pretty soon, I will be off of them completely and just maintain with diet. Since I started the 25 days of Gooseberry Patch Christmas..it's been tough, but I've maintained! I'm looking forward to seeing your healthy recipes. After Christmas, I'll be sharing mine also.

Frieda said...

Wow, I'm glad your son is ok! I'm glad that you were able to find out about your diabetes before it became serious~ Moderation is key in all things, isn't it? Keep up the great work, I have some chicken and broth and may try to convert it for this recipe...

Krystle C. said...

I look forward to reading your new recipes to come. I know I can benefit from some better for me food. (Easier to take it like that, then Healthy food! LOL). I'm afraid that I will be diagnosed with diabetes as well, since I am at risk and it runs in my family. Glad to hear your son is doing well now, and that it was a wake up call to him. I'm also glad that you have the knowledge needed to deal with your diabetes in an educated manner.

Holly said...

Hope all turns out well for you and your son-nothing wrong with healthy posts;)
This Chicken and dumplings sound sooo good and warm for the winter!:) Yum!

Big Dude said...

We're having chicken and dumplings tonightfor dinner and make it very much like you did - which looks outstanding. We prefer the drop dumplings to the rolled version as well. Best of luck with your health issues.

Phoo-D said...

What a month! I'm so glad to hear that your son is doing well and that you have a positive outlook on your diagnosis. I know that you will tackle the challenge of modifying life with style and look forward to reading about the healthier recipes!

Anonymous said...

God Bless You, Debby :-)

Kim said...

Debby - I am so happy to hear that your son is okay, that is the best news of all. Sorry to hear that you have diabetes, but your attitude about it sounds wonderful. I wish you the very best luck. I know you'll do great. I also wanted to tell you that I am a big fan of Ellie Krieger's recipes, as well as Cooking Light's recipes. I have found some great recipes with both. Take care of you and your family.

The chicken and dumplings look absolutely fantastic. I like the use of the chicken fat (that's something that Michael Symon does as well). Bet it adds lots of flavor to the otherwise bland dumpling.

bellini valli said...

I am glad to hear that your son is doing well Debby. The holidays have a way of bringing us all closer and most of us can relate to the struggle the lavish meals and decadent desserts have on our self will. My philosphy is to have just one and only one...except in the case of the Tate's cookies which were so good:D I admire your courage to make a change:D

Dana said...

I think it's really smart that you used some of the chicken fat in your dumplings. Hello flavor city! Is that standardly what is done?

Joanne said...

You know Debby, if it were anyone else, I would be worried. But you have the vim and vigor necessary to fight this. Kudos to you my dear. Let you be an example to us all.

A Feast for the Eyes said...

Dana, I'm not sure about how traditional chicken fat is. I saw this on Cook's Illustrated. The purpose was to add flavor to what they called "otherwise bland" tasting.

FOODalogue said...

I admire your resolve and the healthy path you're headed down. I think all your readers will appreciate taking the journey with you.

BTW, I don't think I've ever eaten (I know I've never made) chicken and dumplings. You did a beautiful job and it's enticing.

Lisa@The Cutting Edge of Ordinary said...

Debby..so sorry to hear about your son's scare. Glad he is ok. I'm looking forward to seeing the new recipes you'll share with us. I know if anyone can make healthy food taste great, it will be you. I make ATK chicken and dumplin's all the time. It is the best recipe. Glad you are ok!! Hugs, Lisa

Laurie @simplyscratch said...

This looks so yummy! I love chicken and dumplings!!

Cathy said...

Chicken and dumplings is one of my family's favorite meals and my sister traditionally served it for Christmas Eve dinner. Your photos make my mouth water, Debby.

I'm so happy to read that your son is doing better. My one resolution this New Year is to take better care of myself so I'll be following right along with you in improving my diet and getting more exercise.

ARLENE said...

Debbie, what a fabulous dish (I kept scrolling down to see what you were going to do with the chicken fat and that glorious skin, which I love but don't eat). I'm sorry to hear you were diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. My DSO was diagnosed also last February at which time I had stopped posting to my blog. The blog had resulted in my gaining weight, too, despite being a Weight Watcher, so I've resumed on a much smaller scale and with greater attention to healthful eating. I'll be looking forward to your coming recipes and thanks in advance for posting the NI. I'm happy to hear that your son is fine and that this was a wake up call to him. Best wishes to you and your family.

Debinhawaii said...

Debby,
I am so glad your son is OK. I am sure that you will do an excellent job with managing your eating and controlling the diabetes. I look forward to seeing your recipes and progress.

Thanks for sending the chicken and dumplings to Souper Sundays--it looks both comforting and delicious.

Nisrine | Dinners and Dreams said...

This is a very comforting dish that I really like especially in this time of year. Take care of yourself:)

Allie said...

First, the food! The chicken and dumplings look amazing. And I have never tried this dish either. I'm glad that your dumplings were still nice and dry on the inside. Another successful recipe!

I am sorry to hear about your diabetes. My dad has type 2 and it is a struggle but a second chance. I know it takes work but I'm so proud of you for taking the steps you need to make for a better and healthier you. I'll say a pray for you! Glad you are doing well :)

Monica H said...

Of course I have my favorite version of this dish, but this looks mighty tasty and I'd love to try it.

I know this was a major wake up call for you and I'm glad you're handling it so well and making an effort to live better. I'm also glad that B is okay!