My daughter called me from the grocery store in Tuscaloosa today in a panic about what to purchase in order to make Chicken & Dumplings. Her cell phone was about to die, and she needed the info… pronto. She had decided that Sunday was the perfect time to have a go of it, and I realized I had no recipe on the blog. I tend to make Chicken & Dumplings when someone is sick or the weather is cool, or rainy. I also have so many variations. Sometimes I drop biscuit dough, slice tortilla’s, mix flour and water to cut my own dumplings, and other times… buy Mary B’s frozen… (gasp)! But, guess what, they are a Pensacola tradition.
She went for the frozen. They are to me just as tasty, unless looking for the puff that the biscuit gives. While others may discard or not even use carrots, onion and celery, I do, and leave it in. If not in a hurry, let the ingredients marry together in a slow cooker for the day. If needing a crowd pleaser ASAP… buy and breakdown a plain rotisserie chicken and remove the meat while still warm when home from the store. Discard bones and skin. Add bone broth along with regular chicken broth too, since you will miss the bones. I always buy low sodium broth, and add more salt by taste. Add the rotisserie chicken in at the end of the recipe. Total short cut, I know.
Seriously, Chicken & Dumplings is a great Southern dish and one of the best comfort foods around, but, it’s rarely made these days because nobody has time for all of the steps involved: Boiling the chicken; deboning the chicken; mixing, rolling and cutting the dumplings. So, if you want comfort food and don’t have the time, it’s okay to cheat with good quality store bought products, and best of all spend more time with friends and family around the dinner table.
Caroline’s Quick Chicken & Dumplings
Makes 6 to 8 servings
2 to 3 pounds of skinless boneless chicken breast cut into chunks against the grain, or meat removed from one or two rotisserie chickens (depending if you prefer white meat only)
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 celery stalks, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 cloves of garlic, smashed with the back of a knife and finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/3 cup all purpose flour (optional regarding how thick you want your stew.)
1/4 cup minced parsley leaves
3/4 cup frozen peas (optional. I love frozen peas. My daughter is not a fan.)
2 quarts low sodium chicken broth
1 small container of chicken bone broth
Mary B’s Frozen Dumplings, 16 0r 24 ounce value pack
In a heavy bottom Dutch oven on medium heat add four tablespoons of olive oil.
Add the onion, celery, carrots, garlic and thyme. Sauté for about 5 minutes, but do not brown.
Add 1/3 cup flour to the pot and cook for a couple of minutes. You’re not looking for the color to brown.
Add the chicken chunks and cook until the chicken begins to brown a little. OR, Wait if using the rotisserie chicken.
Pour in 2 quarts canned or packaged low sodium chicken broth. I like the Pacific brand from Fresh Market, unless my local farmer has some on hand.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Add one package of frozen dumplings, laying them gently one at a time into the stew.
Note: I cut them in half while in the thawing process.
Let the dish return to a boil, stirring to keep the dumplings separated.
Add the peas, cover, reduce the heat and simmer on low for about 45 minutes. Keep stirring occasionally so that the dumplings don’t stick. Prepare for some dumpling breakage. It’s okay.
Turn the heat off and let the stew stand for about 10 minutes before serving as it will thicken more. If too thick, add a little broth, or even some vermouth or white wine.
Ladle into a bowl and top with parsley.
Tip: Some home cooks use a can of cream of chicken soup to add thickness, chicken flavor and salt. Others use cream. Do what tastes best for yourself and family. I’m sticking to bone broth bought from Twin Oaks Farm Stand in Grayton Beach, or made by Pacifica at Fresh Market. It sits right next to the regular chicken broth.