It’s the perfect weather for a big pot of chicken and dumplings. I decided to make my recipe a little different this time and add a dose of curry to the pot, to create something super special on a chilly day like today. I have been making chicken and dumplings since I was a kid. I learned from my step-grandmother Violet, who owned a restaurant with her husband in St. Louis when she was young. She told me stories about the long hours of running a busy place, and she often recalled some of the best dishes from her time in the kitchen, where chicken and dumplings were a house favorite. Violet taught me the basics of preparing this meal when I was in junior high because I was already so interested in cooking, and soon I was making it for the family with a little assistance from her.
The first step is buying a good chicken. Purchasing a whole chicken and cutting it up into eight pieces is what I do, but you can always buy a chicken already cut up for you. Placing the chicken in a big pot with some aromatics of onion and celery with a few bay leaves, and covering it with water is the next step. I find, the trick to tender chicken is to simmer it slowly, and allow the meat to break-down a bit, until it’s almost fall-off-the-bone tender. If you boil it too quickly the meat seizes up and becomes tough, so take your time. I also skim off any dark foam during this process, but I find if you buy a good quality bird, there isn’t much to take off the top.
After the chicken is tender, about an hour, it’s time to add carrots, some more celery (because I love the contrasting textures of celery that has been cooked a little longer and some that’s only cooked until al dente) and top with that creamy dumpling dough. Making dumplings is an easy process because it’s done in one bowl, by hand, and it’s only a few ingredients. Stirring the batter by hand keeps them from toughening up, and assures they will be light and fluffy after cooking. I think a good pot of curry chicken and dumplings is the most delicious thing to warm you up, and nice to enjoy again, reheated for lunch.
1 whole chicken, cut up
8 stalks celery sliced into 3-inch pieces, divided
1 white onion, sliced
2 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves
3 large carrots, sliced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons softened butter
1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
1/4 cup fresh parsley
salt & pepper
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup half and half, or whole milk
3 tablespoons melted butter
- In a large pot or Dutch oven, add chicken, 4 stalks celery, onion, chicken broth and bay leaves. Fill pot with water 3-inches from top. Cook over medium heat until it reaches a simmer, then turn heat to low, or high enough to maintain a simmer. Add 2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, stir. Cover pot with lid ajar and occasionally spoon off any foam that floats to top or sides of pot while cooking. Cook for 1 hour until chicken is tender.
- In a small bowl, combine flour, butter and curry powder, set aside.
- While chicken is cooking, prepare the dumplings. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Add milk and stir until dough comes together. Add butter and stir until light and sticky. Dough will become less sticky as it rests.
- Add remaining celery and carrots to pot. Spoon curry powder mixture into broth and stir. Cook for 5 minutes.
- Dollop dumpling dough over top of broth by the tablespoonful. Cover pot with lid, tightly and allow dumplings to steam for 10 minutes. Remove lid and sprinkle with parsley. Ladle into bowls with pieces of chicken and vegetables. Enjoy!