I have a confession to make. I'm not a real capital-S Southerner [and neither is Kate, you know, my blood relation]. We don't come pre-programmed with Grandma's fried chicken recipe, or a tradition of layer cakes like the fine ladies of our neighboring state. In fact, I'd never even really heard much about Chicken & Dumplings until it changed my life at the fantastic new Ormsby's. Sure you could opt for a banger or burger, but their nightly rotating specials seem to be where it's at. A mix of pub food and Soul food [definitely with a capital S].
But the recent cold weather has kept us holed up and hibernating, so I had to recreate this at home. Rather than an old southern grandma, FoodBlogSearch advised. And lucky for me, I found a version that is actually a soup instead of what I understand to be a traditionally thick, really-bad-for-you stew.
The real miracle here? You'd think this is a finicky dish that requires A) skill and B) simmering for hours. In fact, neither is really necessary. Actual stove-on cook time flexible to be as little as half an hour, or more should you wish to reduce for the stew-like consistency [note: do this BEFORE adding the dumplings]. One more thing: Don't be afraid to use a serious amount of salt, but go slowly and taste frequently.
Chicken and Dumplings, Soup Style
Inspired by Chow.com
Yield: 6 servings
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 medium celery stalks, diced
4-5 garlic cloves, smashed up or diced
2 tablespoons sherry or dry white wine
6-7 cups low-sodium chicken broth (original recipe called for 8 cups, so feel free to increase for a more soup-like experience)
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces (up to 1 1/4 lbs for more bites)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup fresh chives (optional, as my chive plant is currently hibernating, like me)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup milk (1% worked great, but they recommend whole)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
1/2 large head savoy cabbage, large dice (about 6 cups)
1. Heat oil in a large, shallow pot (such as a dutch oven) over medium-high heat. When oil shimmers, add onion, celery, and garlic and season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook until onions begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
2. Add a pinch of flour to the sauteing vegetables and stir. Deglaze with sherry or white wine and let the liquid evaporate for a minute or two.
3. Add broth, thyme and chicken, and bring to a boil.
4. Meanwhile, whisk together flour, chives, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl to break up any lumps. Stir in milk and butter until dough just comes together (it will be very thick).
5. When chicken is cooked through (it will be firm and opaque), add carrots and cabbage and reduce heat to medium low. Add additional salt and pepper if necessary.
6. Drop 1 heaping tablespoon of dough at a time into soup and repeat until pot is full of dumplings [you may not be able to use all the dough]. Cover and cook until dumplings are fluffy and cooked through, about 10 minutes.