Chicken and Dumplings – an Old-Fashioned Treat


Chicken and Dumplings – an Old-Fashioned Treat

This one-pot dinner goes way back. In the US, it was mentioned as early as 1836 in a cookbook from Virginia. The dish later showed up in the lyrics of the American folkloric “sing-along” or “campfire song,” “She’ll be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain when She Comes” which originated in the late 1800s. There, “Chicken ‘n Dumplins” is excitedly anticipated to celebrate a welcome guest’s arrival. I had this down-home treat fairly often when I was a kid, but haven’t seen it, much less cooked it, in many years.


Here’s the way I remember Chicken and Dumplings, but modernized a little on the seasoning and without the chicken bones. Based on my grandkids’ reaction when I served it to them recently, it’s still a family-pleaser. I used the convenience of store-bought biscuit mix (“Jiffy Mix,” “Bisquick” or the store brand) rather than making the dumplings from scratch. A homemade baking-powder biscuit recipe could instead be used to make the dumplings, but that’s extra work.


The recipe serves six. The chicken part can be done ahead, refrigerated in the pot, then brought back to a low boil to add and cook the dumplings 15 minutes before serving. A salad is a nice accompaniment.


2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs

2 tablespoons flour for the chicken

3/4 teaspoon salt for the chicken

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper for the chicken

1/8 teaspoon cayenne for the chicken

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg for the chicken

3 tablespoons rendered chicken fat plus olive oil if necessary

1 medium onion, diced

1 stick celery, split lengthwise then thinly sliced

2 medium carrots, peeled and cut in 1/4-inch thick discs

2 cups chicken broth

Water, as needed

1/4 cup  sour cream

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon paprika


The Dumplings:

2 cups commercial biscuit mix (like Jiffy Mix, Bisquick, or store brand)

2/3 cup milk


Trim the chicken of fat and any tough parts (save the trimmings to fry for grease). Cut crosswise into 3 pieces, or 4 if the thigh is large. Mix well with the flour, salt. pepper, cayenne and nutmeg, and allow to season while preparing the other ingredients.


In a stew pot or Dutch Oven, slowly fry the chicken trimmings to render some chicken grease. Remove the browned solids (they’re great pet treats). Keep about 3 tablespoons drippings, or add some olive oil if needed to reach that amount..


When the fried chicken trimmings have been removed, turn up the heat under the pot and add the floured and seasoned chicken. Fry over high heat, scraping the bottom of the pan with a metal spatula and turning the chicken almost constantly. When all the raw color is gone, remove from the heat and lift out the chicken to a bowl, keeping any grease in the pot. Add a little more oil if all the grease is gone.


Add the onion, celery and carrot to the pot. Stir the mixture well and scrape the bottom of the pot. Fry this way 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth and simmer the vegetables, covered, stirring often, until the carrots are tender when pierced with a toothpick. 


Add the sour cream, salt and paprika. Add the pre-fried chicken. Add a little water, if needed, so that the liquid reaches to near the top of the chicken and carrot pieces. Bring back to a boil and simmer 2 minutes. Taste the sauce and add a little salt if needed.


At this point the dumplings can be added, or the stew can be cooled, refrigerated and reheated later to finish and serve.


For the dumplings, place the biscuit mix in a dry bowl. Make a hole in the middle of the biscuit mix. Pour in the milk, and lightly mix with a fork till fully moistened, but do not mix further. With a spoon and a spatula, put roughly 3-tablespoon lumps of dumpling dough evenly on top of the chicken and sauce. Cover the pot tightly, reduce the heat to simmer, and allow the dumplings to cook for 14 minutes without opening the pot.


Uncover, and serve the chicken and dumplings from the pot.

Follow Us @donderoskitchen