Scratch-made chicken and dumplings are the perfect comfort food for chilly fall evenings. With some yardbird, root vegetables, and a few pantry staples, you can easily put together this southern classic.
Asheville temperatures have been dropping to the 40s at night. Leaves are subtly starting to change colors, and the air is damp and crisp. My simple recipe for chicken and dumplings is sure to warm your soul regardless of where you live.
Fall is pretty special in Asheville. After living in the desert for three years, I am ecstatic to finally experience my favorite season again. As summer said farewell seemingly overnight, the last week I’ve found myself reflecting on yet another season gone by. Nothing lasts forever; the seasons are no exception. Fall is the time for letting go of all the dead things – whether it’s leaves or relationships. A red maple cannot grow new leaves next spring if it’s still hanging onto ones that have withered away and are draining the tree of its resources.
Fall gives us a chance to hit the reset button and refocus our energy. Maybe I’m turning too Ashevillian, but I think self-care is an important part of that reset. You can’t be well physically, emotionally, or mentally when the soul isn’t being nourished. Last week my horoscope said I was suffering from “soul-level exhaustion.” So I started my path to recovery with a batch of chicken and dumplings. We call it comfort food because it does just that.
- 2 tablespoons butter
- All-purpose flour, for coating the chicken
- 2 large bone-in chicken breasts (you can also use thighs if you like dark meat)
- 1 cup chopped carrots
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1 cup chopped onion (I used a combination of red onion and scallions)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme (1 sprig is plenty)
- 6 cups low sodium chicken broth
- ¼ cup half and half
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1-1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup cornmeal
- 1 heaping tablespoon baking powder (NOT baking soda)
- 1-1/2 cups half and half
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ¼ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (optional)
- Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper then coat the chicken with the flour. Shake off excess.
- Melt the butter in a large pot (like a dutch oven) over medium-high heat and brown the chicken pieces on all sides. Once browned, remove chicken from pot and set aside. (Chicken will not be cooked through yet, but don't worry, it's going back in the pot).
- In the same pot, toss in the carrots, onions, and celery; cook for about 5 minutes. Toss in the fresh thyme and bay leaf.
- Add the chicken broth to the pot, then add the browned chicken pieces. Cover the pot and let it simmer on medium heat for about 25 minutes (or until carrots are tender and chicken is cooked through).
- While the chicken simmers, make the dumplings. Sift together the flour, cornmeal, and baking powder into a medium bowl. Slowly add the half and half in several batches, while gently stirring. Be gentle - over-mixing will result in tough dumplings.
- Remove the chicken from the pot and shred the meat, discarding the bones. Add the chicken back into the pot, along with the half and half. Stir until combined. Fish out the bay leaves and remove them from pot.
- Using a spoon, gently drop the dumplings into the pot (about tablespoon size). Cover the pot and let it simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the dumplings are fully cooked and tender. Let the chicken and dumplings sit for just a few minutes before serving. Enjoy!
‘Tis the season for comfort food, cozy sweaters, pumpkin-spiced everything, flannel, rustling leaves, apple-picking, cool days, and the warmth that comes from sharing it all with family and friends.
Hope y’all enjoy! <3