Back to the Cutting Board
Southern-Style Chicken and Dumplings
- 1 large (4-5 lbs.) fryer chicken (sometimes called a Hen), neck and gizzards removed
- 1 large onion, peeled and cut in half
- 3 medium carrots, cut into large pieces
- 3 stalks of celery, cut into large pieces
- 1 tsp. kosher salt, or to taste
- 1/2 tsp. pepper or 1/2 tbsp. peppercorns
- Fresh herbs of your choice (optional)
- 3 cups cake flour or White Lily flour*
- 3/4 tsp. baking soda
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- 4 1/2 tbsp. shortening*
- 1 cup milk
Place the chicken, onions, carrots, and celery in a large stockpot and cover with water. Add about a teaspoon of salt and a big pinch of pepper or handful of peppercorns. Feel free to add several stalks/leaves of fresh herbs (no need to chop), like parsley, thyme, oregano, or sage. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat so water maintains a gentle simmer. Cover and cook chicken for at least 1 hour or until cooked through (about 165 degrees).
Tip: I recommend making the dumplings the night before. They can sit out, loosely covered with a tea towel or plastic wrap until you're ready to begin cooking. Mix flour, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl. Cut shortening into flour mixture with your fingertips until it resembles small peas. Add milk — 1/4 cup at a time, you may not need a full cup — and stir until a ball of dough just begins to form, being careful not to over-mix.
Divide the dough into two equal halves, loosely shaped into rectangles. Roll each half of the dough out onto a floured piece of waxed paper or parchment paper. Roll about 1/4 inch thick. Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut dough into rectangles about 1 inch wide by 3 inches long. Allow the strips to rest and harden for at least 3 hours or overnight.
Once the chicken is done, remove it from the broth and let it cool. Remove chicken from the bone (this shouldn’t be hard, it should be falling off pretty easily at this point) and shred into medium-sized pieces, discarding bones and skin.
Pour the chicken broth through a fine-mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth (you can improvise with a coffee filter or paper towel), discarding vegetables. Reserve 8 cups of broth for the dumplings. Refrigerate or freeze the rest to use for another recipe. It’s much more flavorful than the chicken broth you buy at the grocery store.
In a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat, bring the broth to a very gentle simmer. This can be a bit tricky depending on your stove because you don't want the broth to get too hot or the dumplings may come apart. You should be able to see lots of tiny bubbles rising below the surface of the broth, but they don't need to be breaking through into a full simmer yet.
Drop in the dumplings, one at a time, and give the whole pot a gentle stir after every 5 or so dumplings. This will help keep them from sticking together. After all the dumplings have been added, continue to cook on medium, stirring regularly, for 7-10 minutes. At this point, the broth should have started to thicken and get more white/opaque as the dumplings cook down.
Reduce heat to low and gently stir in your shredded chicken. Cover and continue cooking on low until thickened to your liking, about 20 to 30 minutes. Season generously with salt and pepper and serve immediately.