Homemade Chicken and Dumplings Recipe
My favorite Christmas recipe… I have to choose just one? I don’t eat many vegetables so that narrows it down to meat, potatoes, and chicken and dumplings.
Chicken and dumplings are one of my favorite things about Christmas dinner. Yes, I eat them throughout the year, but there is something about having them at Christmas and Thanksgiving that makes them so much better. Maybe it’s because of all the hearty fixins that go along with them during the holidays.
Being from the south, I have had chicken and dumplings several ways. Some were great and some were ‘uh… who taught you how to cook chicken and dumplings?’ There are some things you just don’t do to a pot of chicken and dumplings. Let’s go over those, shall we?
4 Rules for Cooking Chicken and Dumplings:
1: Dumplings do not belong in a can. I wouldn’t feed my dog canned dumplings, nor would I eat them.
2. Dumplings are made from a doughy substance. Not a tortilla. There is nothing appealing about cutting tortillas up and boiling them. I know, thousands of people love them, but not this fat girl.
3. Dumplings do not need veggies. Yes, I am anti-veggie for the most part, but still, where do you see celery, carrots, onions, or any other vegetable in the title ‘Chicken and Dumplings”? If you add veggies to it then it would be Chicken and Carrots and Celery and Dumplings… and yuck!\
4. Do not chop up chicken for your dumplings! This is not a casserole, a chicken salad or anything along those lines. If you don’t have time to shred your chicken, then by all means, do it the day before or find someone else to make the darn dumplings. I cannot stand chopped chicken in my dumplings. It messes with the balance of the taste. Yeah, I don’t know if there is such thing but, hey, you know what I mean.
And of course, it should go without saying... do not used canned chicken!!!
Now that we have the rules for cooking chicken and dumplings out of the way, I will let you in on a delicious secret you may, or may not already know…
Let me introduce you to my favorite lady in the kitxhen… Mrs. Mary B!
Mary B’s Open Kettle Dumplings are FABULOUS! If you haven’t had them before, you've got to give them a try. Mrs. Mary took out all the work by making the dumpling dough ahead of time, cutting it into strips and freezing them for me to cook later. She will do it for you, too! You can find them in the freezer section near the biscuits. They cost $2-3 and two packs make a huge stock pot full with plenty of leftover.
How to Cook Mary B’s Open Kettle Chicken & Dumplings
I start by washing, cutting and boiling my chicken. I use a whole chicken, chicken breast or whatever I have on hand. I prefer a mix of white and dark meat, but it’s all up to you, though bone in and skin on, makes for a much richer stock and better flavor. Make sure you use a big pot so that you have plenty of room for water, chicken and the dumplings later on.
Cover the chicken with plenty of water, add in some salt, pepper, and any other flavorings you like. Boil the chicken until it is done and then remove from the water and set aside to cool. Bring the water back to a rumbling boil…
Once your chicken is removed it’s time to start on the dumplings. Once the water is back to boiling, remove your dumplings from the freezer and break them into pieces. They will swell to almost twice their size so I like to break each piece into 1/5’s or so. It’s quicker if you break 3-4 pieces (strips) at the time. Stir them often while you are adding the dumplings so they don’t stick together.
After all the dumplings have been added, let them boil for 3-5 minutes and then reduce the heat to about medium-low. You want them just above a simmer. Put the lid on and let them cook for about 30-45 minutes. They will usually float on the top until they are close to getting done. When they start settling to the bottom, you will need to stir them more frequently. Note: The package says something like 20 minutes. Well, someone in Mrs. B’s kitchen messed up. Make sure you plan on 30-45 minutes just for the dumplings- add additional time for the chicken. I usually start my dumpling about an hour and half to two hours before I want them done. If they get done early, it won’t hurt a thing. The longer they rest, the more flavor they have. Hints, the reason they are so much better the next day.
While your dumplings are cooking, shred the chicken to your own preference. I like mine shredded in to thin pieces so that it blends well and you get chicken in every bite. Don’t forget to check on your dumplings often and add cup or two of water as needed, to keep the broth/juices kind of thin until they are close to being done.
You can tell the dumplings are about done when they nearly double their size and sink to the bottom. I take one out with a fork, let it cool and check the consistency. I prefer mine to be barely done when I take them off the heat because I let them set for another 10 minutes or so, plus the time it takes everyone to get piled into the kitchen and ready to eat. They will continue to cook for quite some time even after they are removed from the heat.
Once the dumplings are done, or very close to being done, stir in the chicken and sample the dumplings. If it needs more salt or pepper, add it now. If the juice is getting to thick, add more water or chicken broth. Keep in mind, as they set, the dumplings will soak up the water so put a little extra so they aren't dry and pasty. You can never really go wrong with dumplings as long as you don’t scorch them!
Simple as pie, or should I say dumplings…. Boil the chicken and set aside, break and boil the dumplings, shred and add the chicken, and enjoy! No one will ever know they were not rolled on your counter. Some consider this cheating, and I have had people tell me they would never eat a frozen dumplings or any other form not rolled out. The fire chief’s wife always insisted that she would be able to tell the difference. Well, I got the chance to prove her wrong at the fire department Christmas dinner back in 2003. Needless to say, for the next 4 years, my official ‘must-bring’ dish for any event, per her request, was my chicken and dumplings.
Side Note: You can add chicken stock if you like. I use bone in and skin on chicken so their is plenty of flavor. When I have been in a pinch and only had boneless or skinless chicken I did add stock. You can try it without it and always at it in near the end if need be. I tell you, Mrs. B's Open Kettle Dumplings are incredibly easy- you can't go wrong!