1 ½ gallons
Chicken and dumplings is basically chicken soup with dumplings in it. However, because there are so many variations of chicken soup, this may be oversimplifying things a bit. It's one of those things that you might easily find, in some form, in every corner of the world. My recipe utilizes two very specific beliefs that I have about food. The first is that food tastes better when you start with whole and raw ingredients to build flavors from scratch. This means that we use a whole chicken, homemade chicken stock, and that we make our dumplings from scratch. The second belief is that food should taste like food, i.e. chicken tastes like chicken. To do this we keep our recipes simple. And if we do this right the flavors will remain pure and distinct, and hopefully familiar.
1. Get together the ingredients to make chicken and dumplings. The recipe begins with making a simple chicken soup. The recipe calls for a quartered chicken, mirepoix, chicken stock, and a bit of herbs and salt. Start by seasoning the chicken with salt and pepper, and then brown the chicken in a bit of olive oil. Then remove the chicken from the pan and add the onion and celery.
2. Cook the chicken and remove the bones. Cook the onion and celery until they are translucent. Then add the chicken back to the pot and cover with 6–8 cups of chicken stock. Simmer the chicken, covered, for 1 ½ hours until the chicken is tender and falling apart. Then remove the chicken bones and discard them. Chop or shred the chicken by hand into bite-size pieces.
3. Finish making the chicken soup. Add the chicken pieces back to the pot of liquid, along with the carrots and the herbs. Add more chicken stock if the liquid levels are low. Taste the soup and adjust the salt and pepper levels. If you use a store-bought chicken stock, make sure to use low sodium. Put the soup on medium heat while you make the dumplings.
4. Mix the dumplings. Sift the flour together with baking powder, salt, and herbes de Provence. Then use a pastry cutter and cut the cold butter into the dry mixture. Cut the butter up into the flour until it becomes grainy, almost like corn meal. Then stir in the milk until the mixture is smooth and even.
5. Boil and steam the dumplings. Drop the dumplings into the chicken soup until you've covered the whole top of the chicken soup. Then, with the soup on medium, it should be simmering; put the lid on and let it cook, covered, for 15 minutes. The dumplings will cook both from the boiling liquid underneath and from the steam above. Check the dumplings by poking them with a skewer to see if they're done. The skewer should come out mostly clean if they are. Once the chicken and dumplings are done, serve immediately.
You can quarter your own chicken for this recipe, or you can buy a chicken already cut up. Chicken thighs also work very well for making this recipe.
Make sure you get all of the bones out of the soup. Nothing worse than choking to death on a chicken bone.
Don't stir the chicken and dumplings too much, if at all. This will cause the dumplings to fall apart and ruin your soup.