There is nothing like a warm, comforting bowl of chicken and dumplings at the end of a long week. There’s a saying in the South, “Your mama doesn’t really love you if you come home and she doesn’t make you chicken and dumplings!” It’s a special meal, a Sunday dinner dish served in your best china for friends and family alike. In this world of the hurry-up-and-eat syndrome, chicken and dumplings makes you want to linger at the table and catch up with your nieces and nephews, finding out whom they’re dating, how that weekend in Charleston was or how the internship is working out. Summer or winter, it matters not as this dish is held in high regard by all. The dumplings are drop dumplings, light and fluffy, speckles of freshly cracked black pepper riddled throughout and surrounded by a fragrant and savory chicken broth. Oh, but this is a most satisfying meal! And guess what? There’s also a quick method of preparing it. Yes. It’s called rotisserie chicken. This recipe reheats the following day quite well, however, chicken and dumplings don’t freeze well, at least not any I’ve ever made. I’ve found the wider the pot the dish cooks in the better the dumplings, as a large surface area gives them room to spread and remain tender. Stewed green beans, collards, baked or fried okra, broccoli and creamed spinach are all delicious sides to serve. I hope you prepare this classic. Your family will think you slaved over a hot stove all day and love you all the more for it!
If you choose to use a store-bought rotisserie chicken make certain you purchase either a plain one or a flavor that marries well with the dish, certainly not BBQ or fried. Pour half of the chicken broth into the pot, add the vegetables and bring to a gentle boil. While the vegetables cook, shred the chicken by hand. Add the shredded chicken to the pot once the vegetables are tender and prior to adding the dumpling batter.
Chicken and Cracked Black Pepper Dumplings
- 3 pounds chicken, whole or cut up. If cut up then both white and dark meat, all bone in.
- 2 quarts chicken broth, divided. I find Publix brand organic, “Greenwise” is fabulous.
- 1 large onion, peeled
- 5 stalks celery, finely chopped
- 4 carrots, finely chopped
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1-2 tablespoons freshly cracked black pepper
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 egg, well beaten
- 4 tablespoons butter, melted
- To a large pot add the raw chicken, half the broth and onion. Cover and bring to a gentle boil.
- Leaving the broth in the pot, remove the chicken and set aside to shred when cool enough to handle.
- Add the celery and carrots to the pot, cover and cook until tender.
- While the vegetables cook shred the cooked chicken or rotisserie chicken. Discard bones, skin and any fat.
- In a medium size bowl add the flour, pepper, baking powder and salt and mix well so all ingredients are thoroughly combined.
- In a separate bowl combine buttermilk, egg and butter mixing well.
- Return the shredded chicken to the pot.
- Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and stir to combine. The batter will be thick and very stiff. Any unmixed flour will be included in the pot.
- Using a soup spoon, drop spoonfuls of batter into the pot each roughly 3″ in diameter. Add any flour bits to the pot as they will thicken the broth.
- Gently pour remaining broth over the dumplings, cover and allow to simmer 10-15 minutes.
- Remove from heat, uncover and let cool 5-10 minutes prior to serving.