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Mr. Monday Is Meatloaf’s family hales from Kentucky, and as a result one of the first dishes I desperately sought out how to make when we were first married was a classic chicken and dumpling stew.
The very first time we went to visit his family I got to meet the lady who is the end-all to beat-all cook in their family – Aunt Glenna. Let me tell you what, the stew was perfect and I have never been able to replicate the exact sunny yellow color of her mashed potatoes. They defied the laws of physics and nature, no joke! And they were fabulous! And so was she! She was an inspiration, and represented a goal to achieve!
In my early days, I took my inspiration from ‘The Joy of Cooking’ of which I have two different editions that are invaluable family heirlooms. In fact, this recipe is slightly adapted from the 1997 (I think?) adaptation of Irma Rombauer’s timeless cookbook. My other inspiration was Betty Crocker. Everyone needs to learn the basics, and there are no other better cookbooks to have in your home to learn American cuisine techniques with the exception of Deep South cookery. Later I moved on to other great chef’s, but those are a post for a different day.
Without further delay, lets get started…
You’ll need the big pack of chicken thighs from the grocery store. Bone-in and skin-on for maximum flavor. First, you need to find two. One pan to brown the chicken for our classic chicken and dumpling stew, then one to actually cook the stew in.
Gather your chicken, and trim off the excess skin. Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken then preheat your cast iron skillet. Melt a couple tablespoons of butter in the pan with an equal amount of olive oil. Cook chicken on both sides until golden brown, about 5 minutes on each side.
While this is cooking, it’s time to prep the vegetables. You will need to chop two medium size onions, slice 8-ounces of mushrooms, slice 4 medium carrots, and 3 celery stalks. Once the chicken is done browning, add the veggies to the pan with four tablespoons of four butter to soften. Salt and pepper to taste then cook about 8 minutes.
When the vegetables are softened we are going to add a generous 1/3 cup of flour to the pan to create a roux for our classic chicken and dumpling stew. Once this has cooked for a couple of minutes we are going to add on box of unsalted chicken broth to the pot then add the browned chicken to it as well. There should be enough liquid to cover the mixture, which there typically is not. To this add water to cover, generally one to two cups.
We are going to season our classic chicken and dumpling stew with 1 teaspoon of ground thyme, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper to start. These seasoning will be adjusted a second time later in the cooking process. Cook the stew for about an hour. Then remove the chicken pieces to a pan. Remove the skin, and shred the meat then return to the pot.
If needed, the stew can be made up to this point then finished later if needed. You can refrigerate for up to three days prior to finishing. Reheat when ready to finish, and proceed from here.
Add an additional 1/2 teaspoon of ground thyme to the stew. Salt and pepper to taste. Hint: Classic Chicken and Dumplings is a very pepper heavy dish so more is better.
Add about 1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream and several drops of lemon juice (one good squeeze from half a lemon should do – be conservative here) to the stew then return to a simmer.
While the stew returns to a simmer we’ll get our dumpling batter ready to go. There are two schools of thought on the dumplings – some people roll them out and cut them, and other like me drop them into the top of the stew.
Melt 3 tablespoons of butter into one cup of milk then combine with 2 cups of flour, 1 tablespoon of baking powder, and 3/4 teaspoon of salt that have been mixed together.
If you have a small family one recipe will do, but for larger families or bigger eaters you can double the recipe. This classic chicken and dumpling stew also holds up well for reheating. Great for leftover night or lunches!
Drop by tablespoons on to the top of the stew, and once you have all of your dumplings in the pot cover then cook for ten minutes. You might feel tempted to check on the dumplings while they cook, but resist temptation by leaving the lid on. Otherwise, they may end up undercooked and doughy. Turn off the heat, but do not remove the lid. Remove the pot to the table and let rest an additional 10-15 minutes prior to serving.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to not remove the lid once you have placed your dumplings in the pot up until the point at which you serve the stew.
Enjoy this classic chicken and dumpling stew that is full of flavor, and loaded with fluffy light dumplings! Salt and pepper to taste. Will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Classic Chicken and Dumpling Stew
- 3-4 pounds skin on, bone in chicken thighs may do boneless or skinless if preferred, will result in less flavor
- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste Both sides of chicken
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3-4 large carrots, peeled and sliced
- 3 stalks celery, sliced
- 1 8-ounce package of mushrooms, sliced
- 4 Tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup all purpose flour
- 1 32 ounce box unsalted chicken broth
- 1-2 cups water as needed, to cover
- 1 teaspoon ground thyme
- 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper may decrease salt to half if desired
- 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- lemon juice several drops
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 Tablespoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup milk I use 2%
- 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- Rinse and pat dry the chicken parts. Salt and pepper each side. Heat a pan to medium heat, add butter and olive to pan. Brown each side of the chicken for about 3-5 minutes on each side until all pieces are done. Remove to stew pot.
- Scrape brown bits from the bottom of the pan, add 4 tablespoons of butter, and vegetables to pan. Cook until softened, about 8 minutes. Add 1/3 cup of flour, cook for 1-2 minutes. Then add unsalted chicken broth, stir well until combined.
- Add vegetables and broth mixture to stew pot with chicken parts. If not covered with liquid add enough water to cover. Add 1/2 teaspoon each of ground thyme, salt, and pepper. Bring to a simmer then cover and cook for an hour or until chicken is tender and falls off the bone.
- Remove chicken to a plate. Remove skins, and shred meat. Return shredded chicken to pot. If needed may stop at this point, refrigerate for up to three days prior to reheating and finishing recipe.
- Add heavy whipping cream, and lemon juice to stew. Bring stew back to good simmer before adding dumpling mixture to stew.
- Combine 2 cups of flour, baking powder, and salt to a medium bowl then stir together.
- Melt three tablespoons of butter in one cup of milk in the microwave. Add to flour mixture and combine well
- Drop by tablespoons onto top of stew, cover, and cook for ten minutes. Remove from heat and rest an additional 10-15 minutes prior to removing cover. Serve immediately.
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