In this new column, we'll revisit favorite Yankee recipes from years past and update them for the way we cook now. So as we contemplated where to begin, the answer was easy: chicken and dumplings. This tried-and-true recipe is a consistent favorite among our readers, and with good reason. It is not, however, an easy weeknight dish. You simmer a whole chicken for an hour, then let the meat cool and take it off the bone. Meanwhile, you make the dumpling dough, roll it out, and cut it. It's a wonderful recipe: cozy, economical, delicious. But it's not the stuff of everyday cooking.
This updated version is. It starts with store-bought chicken stock (though you can always use homemade), a rotisserie chicken, and simple drop dumplings. We boost the flavor of the chicken stock by adding very aromatic vegetables such as leeks, carrots, celery, fennel, and garlic. And before you know it, dinner is ready. The flour from the dumplings thickens the broth, making it almost creamy. And if you want to make the dish more economical, you can always use the chicken carcass to cook up a whole new pot of stock.
Recipe: Weeknight Chicken and Dumplings
This updated version of old-fashioned chicken and dumplings starts with store-bought chicken stock, a rotisserie chicken, and simple drop dumplings. It was inspired by many Yankee variations over the years, including "Potted Chicken with Parsley-Bread Dumplings" from October 1942.
For the soup
- 3 tablespoons olive or canola oil
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 1 leek (white and light green parts only), diced
- 1 small onion (any kind), diced
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
- 1/2 fennel bulb, cored and diced (reserve fronds for garnish)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 7 cups reduced-sodium chicken stock
- Meat from a 2- or 3-pound rotisserie chicken, chopped into bite-size pieces
For the dumplings
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons salted butter, melted
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- In a large Dutch oven or soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add all the vegetables, salt, and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until the onions are translucent, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the dumplings.
- In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Stir in the butter with a fork until well distributed. The mixture will look crumbly. Add the buttermilk and gently stir with a spatula just until the dough comes together.
- Add the chicken to the soup pot, then use a cookie scoop or a large spoon to scoop out golf ball-size dumplings and drop them into the broth. Cover the pot and cook until the dumplings are fully cooked, 10 to 12 minutes more. Garnish with the reserved fennel fronds, and serve.
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