Mother’s Chicken and Dumplings

November 11, 2011 | By andrea | Filed in: Comfort Food, Main Dish, Recipes, Soup/Stew.

I was hankering for comfort food the other day and decided to try my hand at chicken and dumplings. Having never made this dish before, I chose a recipe by Lisa Schroeder, owner of Mother’s Bistro. Mother’s Bistro is famous around Portland for it’s classic comfort food and let me tell you, this recipe did not disappoint: plump, parsley-spiked dumplings cooked to fluffy perfection in a creamy chicken gravy. Yum!

Although there’s a few steps involved in making the dish, it’s well worth the effort. For the gravy, use a good quality chicken broth or make your own. Need to save time? Use a rotisserie chicken if you like.  My sister-in-law who has southern roots ate a bowlful and gave it her approval.  Enjoy!

Chicken and Dumplings
-recipe from Mother’s Best: Comfort Food That Takes You Home Again by Lisa Schroeder, Danielle Centoni

This dish is one of the most popular at Mother’s Bistro, probably because so many people grew up eating their mother’s or grandmother’s version. Traditionally, this dish is like a thick, creamy chicken soup with a layer of doughy dumplings that steam right on top while the soup simmers. Some make the dumplings “slippery,” with just flour and water for a more dense, chewy texture. But ours are layered with butter and leavened with baking powder, making them more like biscuits. Back in the day, a lot of moms turned to biscuit mix to try and save time, so not many people remember dumplings as tender and delicious as these. Making the biscuits from scratch takes just a few more minutes than using a mix and the results are far superior. Makes 8 servings.

Chicken gravy:
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup all-purpose flour
7 cups chicken broth (low sodium)
2 teaspoons salt
½ freshly ground black pepper
2 cups diced carrots (about 2 large)
2 cups diced celery (about 5 stalks)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 scant teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2/3 cup whole milk

To serve:
5 cups cooked chicken (approximately 1 3-lb. chicken; remove the skin, and pick the meat off the bones, keeping the meat in large chunks)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley, for garnish

In a heavy-bottomed large (8- to 10-quart) saucepan or soup pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add flour and mix well with a wooden spoon to make a roux. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture is pale yellow and resembles fine, wet sand, about 3 minutes.

Whisk the broth into the roux a little at a time, allowing the roux to absorb the liquid before adding more. (This will help avoid lumps.) Add the salt, pepper, carrots and celery. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally, then lower the heat and gently simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Keep stirring occasionally and skim any scum that rises to the surface and stirring frequently with a wooden spoon.

While the gravy simmers, make the dumplings: whisk the flour, baking powder, salt and parsley together in a large bowl and cut in the butter using a pastry blender, two knives or a whisk until it’s in small pieces. (Alternatively, you can use a food processor: Place the flour, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse several times to combine. Add the parsley and pulse once or twice to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse until the butter is in small pieces.)

Add the milk and pulse or stir to moisten the flour. (Do not overmix or you will develop the gluten in the flour and the dumplings will be chewy.) Gather the dough into a ball.

Using a large spoon or your hands, scoop out ¼ cup chunks of dough, lightly roll between your palms to round them out, then drop into the simmering gravy (it’s ok if they sink down), spacing them apart. Cover the pot and simmer until the dumplings are done (a knife inserted in the center of a dumpling should come out clean), about 20 minutes. (Avoid lifting the lid while the dumplings are cooking because it slows down the cooking process, and “if you’re lookin’ you’re not cookin’!”)

Gently stir the cooked chicken into the pot with the dumplings, return the liquid to a simmer, and cook 5 more minutes to heat the chicken through. Using a serving spoon or tongs, divide the chicken and dumplings among the soup bowls. Ladle the gravy over the dumplings and chicken, sprinkle with parsley, and serve.

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