New-South Chicken and Dumplings — Down-Home Comfort

by in Recipes, February 7th, 2014

New-South Chicken and Dumplings — Down-Home ComfortWhy is it that so many comfort food classics start with a chicken in a pot? Chicken and dumplings is quite possibly the best cold-weather comfort food combination — thick, hearty stew married with fluffy, tender dumplings. There are two primary schools of thought when it comes to dumplings: dropped or rolled. Dumplings are essentially biscuits simmered in broth. The broth flavors the dumplings and the flour from the dumplings helps to thicken the stew.

My grandmother’s dumpling recipe was basically her recipe for biscuit dough rolled out and cut into strips. She started with a whole chicken and the entire process took a couple of hours; it was time-consuming. Frankly, when I am in need of comfort food, I often find my patience can wear a bit thin and I’m not into “time-consuming.”

Dumplings can be a bit tricky. It’s easy to wind up with heavy, pastelike dough balls. Ugh. There are recipes out there using canned biscuits, but with these easy-breezy dump-and-stir drop dumplings you can have wholesome, homemade, down-home comfort in a snap — made with ingredients you can pronounce. The secret is using warm milk. The heat expands and sets the flour so that the dumplings don’t as readily absorb the chicken stock in the stew.

By starting with boneless, skinless chicken, I’ve trimmed down the cooking time to a respectable 30 minutes. I’ve also added carrots, sweet potatoes and spinach to make this stew into a more well-rounded one-pot meal. (You could add parsnips, peas or chopped winter greens such as kale or collard greens as well.) Just make sure the vegetables are cut small enough so they will cook in the same amount of time as the dumplings.

Scratch chicken and dumplings in about half an hour — now that’s down-home comfort.

Bon Appétit, Y’all!

Georgia-born, French-trained Chef Virginia Willis has cooked lapin Normandie with Julia Child in France, prepared lunch for President Clinton and harvested capers in the shadow of a smoldering volcano in Sicily, but it all started in her grandmother’s country kitchen. A Southern food authority, she is the author of Bon Appétit, Y’all and Basic to Brilliant, Y’all, among others. Follow her continuing exploits at

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Comments (2)

  1. Just the thought of chicken and dumplings makes me sigh a long, happy, contented sigh. I make the rolled version, very traditional, and the grandkids love to help with the rolling and cutting. I try to do everything ahead of time when I know they're coming for a visit leaving just the dumplings for the last so they can enjoy helping make supper. Next time they visit, maybe we'll try your gorgeous updated version!

  2. virginiawillis says:

    Thanks Lana! I love this one, maybe they will get a kick out of using an ice cream scoop with dumblings, not ice cream!!

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