Cheap Recipe: Homemade Chicken and Dumplings

18 Nov

For a printable version of this recipe and complete ingredients listing, click here.

The aroma of homemade chicken and dumplings is one of the most healing smells in the world...

This is one of the cheapest meals I can possibly think of. With a well-stocked pantry/fridge, you can whip this up for the price of the chicken itself, which in my case was less than $2.50 for a package of thigh quarters!

And nothing is more filling than a steaming bowl of hot chicken and dumplings. Talk about a great penny pinching recipe!

Wilting celery or onions won't be wasted with this dish!

This is also a good recipe if you’re not sure when the family will all be home for dinner. You can just simmer the meat and stock as long as you want, ready the dough, and then wait to actually drop it into the pot until everyone finally gets home. This way you won’t have pasty or overcooked dumplings.

Everyone has a different opinion of what makes a dumpling. Some folks use big balls of biscuit dough, others roll out paper-thin dough resembling piecrust–even when I was growing up, the definition of “dumpling” differed, depending on whether my mom or dad was preparing the dinner.

Salt and pepper are the only spices you need!

I tend to think like my mom and prefer dumplings to be mostly uniform and thin with provision for some random sloppier ones tossed in for good measure.

Begin by placing about 1.5 lbs chicken thigh quarters (or other cheap cut) in the bottom of a large stock pot. You don’t have to worry about skinning the meat if you don’t want to

Add water to stock pot until 3/4 full.

because over time the skins will slip off in whole pieces and float to the top to be skimmed out. Plus, leaving them on during the boiling will help your water become stockier instead of just broth.

Sprinkle the chicken thighs liberally with salt and pepper. Dice one large yellow onion and several stalks of celery♥; toss vegetables over the meat.

Chef’s note: This is a great recipe to whip out when you find wilting or limp celery/onions in the crisper drawer–it won’t matter a bit for this recipe! Use up those old vegetables rather than wasting money on replacing them with fresh ones!

Cover the chicken and vegetables with water until stock pot is at least 3/4 full. Some water will boil away during cook time, so you may or may not need to add more water before cooking the actual dumplings.

Your burner never needs to go above MEDIUM-HIGH (6 or 7) for this recipe.

Bring stock pot to a simmer and heat at least 1 hour, or until chicken is thoroughly cooked. (I think mine went about 90 minutes, which was more than necessary but I had started dinner well ahead of time so I could get other things done in the meantime, which is part of the beauty of chicken and dumplings! You can let it go for literally hours if you like. The longer it goes, the more hearty the broth/stock will become.)

 
 
 

Flour, salt and baking powder...

When you are ready to begin the dumpling stage, make sure a large area of your counter is cleaned off and wiped down. If your available countertop is near the stove, you can prepare the dumplings straight off the counter. If your stove is across the room, you may want to do like I do and prepare the dough on a large, unsided cookie sheet you can transport to the simmering pot without a lot running back and forth.

Beat eggs together with cooled broth from the pot.

 

To begin dumpling dough, spoon out a cup or two of the simmering broth to cool for a minute. In a large bowl, comine 3 cups flour (all-purpose or cake flour), 1 to 2 teaspoons salt and 2 tablespoons double-acting baking powder. Stir well.

A good, stiff, sticky dough is perfect.

Into a small bowl or measuring cup, beat 2 to 3 eggs. Add the cooled broth to the bowl and whisk. (If you don’t cool the broth at all you run the risk of “cooking” little tidbits of egg in the bowl. Not pretty.)

Pour the egg mixture gradually into the flour mixture, stirring between additions. You may or may not have to use all of it.

Pretty dumplings all in a row...

Once all of the flour mixture has been absorbed into a sticky dough, you’re ready to go.

Flour your surface (countertop or jumbo cookie sheet) and transfer dough. Cover the dough with a heavy layer of flour before attempting to flatten it out (otherwise it will stick to your fingers so badly you may find your wedding band somewhere in the finished product later!). Use fingertips or rolling pin to flatten dough to desired thickness.

Let gravity stretch those dumplings!

Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, begin slicing flattened dough into 1″ wide strips, and then cross-cut strips into desired length (3 inches is about the maximum length you want since the dough will stretch when you drop it into the simmering broth).

Stir simmering dumplings occasionally to prevent them from forming into the One Dumpling To Rule Them All...

Return to pot; remove any floating skins if necessary. One at a time, begin peeling the dough strips from the surface and drop them into the simmering liquid, allowing gravity to stretch them as they are dropped in.

Note that you do not want the broth to be at a full boil, as you will both run the risk of spattering yourself and also having “hard” dumplings.

Once all of the dumplings have been added to the pot, cover with lid and reduce heat to MEDIUM LOW. Allow dumplings to simmer

These chicken and dumplings will make you feel all warm and fuzzy faster than brand new socks!

approximately 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until a “test dumpling” comes out chewy and without any dough or flour in the center when bitten into.

When all dumplings are cooked, dish chicken and dumplings into individual bowls with slotted spoon. Top with chopped parsley or additional salt/pepper if desired. Serve immediately.

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