Since I had this huge pot of Everlasting Chicken Broth – with a big old chicken in it just waiting to be transformed into something – and since I’m still in “comforting anti-sick-feeling food” mode, I decided to make Chicken and Dumplings. This is one of the recipes I make that I grew up eating, so has the additional comforting component of being a childhood favorite – the only thing different is that I use spelt flour now. That, and it’s an easy, quick meal to make – and those are always my favorite kind!
Normally, I start this recipe by putting chicken parts in a pot with some spices and cook them up for about half an hour, but this time I already had cooked chicken and broth waiting for me, so I skipped that part. I’ll give instructions for how I did it this time, but then also for how I normally do it so you have options.
This time, I had this on my stove. It’s a pastured stewing chicken that has been cooked slowly for most of the day in a pot of water with peppercorns, allspice berries, garlic, onion, and salt.
So I took the chicken out with two large slotted spoons and put it on a plate to cool a bit.
Meanwhile, I heated some olive oil and butter in a large pot, and chopped up some carrots, onions and a couple cloves of garlic. When the butter was melted, I put the veggies in and sautéed them for about 5 minutes.
You can use whatever vegetables you want here – turnips, celery, mushrooms…whatever. This is just all I had on hand and I felt like keeping it simple. After about five minutes put in some broth from the pot – about 3 cups.
Let the veggies simmer while you start work on the chicken. This part is totally simple: just tear chunks of it off the bones with your fingers and stick them in the pot. No need to chop them up, and they’ll peel right off with no problem.
If you need to, put in some more broth until it’s just covering the ingredients, like in the picture above. The amount of broth you need will depend on the amount of vegetables and chicken you have, so there’s no specific amount.
Put in some marjoram, basil, and a bay leaf, and cover and let it simmer for about 20 minutes over medium-low heat. While it’s simmering, prepare the dumpling batter.
Put spelt flour, parsley, oregano, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl and stir them together. Use a spoon to create a well in the middle.
Mix together milk, an egg, and some melted butter and pour it all into the well. The point of the well is that it makes it easier to combine the wet and dry ingredients together without over-mixing. Mix it all together. It should form a loose dough.
If the veggies are done, place spoonfuls of the batter on top of the stewing chicken and vegetables. They should be mostly on top of the food, not sinking into the liquid.
Now, put on the lid and let it cook for 10 minutes. DO NOT PICK UP THE LID! I don’t care how curious you are, don’t do it! If you do, the dumplings will be all gummy inside, and no one wants a gummy dumpling.
After 10 minutes you can check the dumplings. I can tell if they’re done just by looking at them, but if you aren’t able to do that, stick a toothpick in the middle of one. It should come out clean. If they’re not quite done, put the lid back on and let it cook for a few more minutes.
Serve it either in bowls with extra broth or on plates. (The dumplings soak in a lot of the broth while cooking, so that’s why you need to add extra broth if you want it soupier. If you aren’t making this from a huge pot of broth like I did this time and so don’t have extra, then you’ll just have to go for the on-the-plate version.)
Chicken and Spelt Dumplings
- 2 1/2 pounds meaty chicken pieces and 3-4 cups of water, OR one chicken with broth from making Everlasting Chicken Broth
- 1 tsp basil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp marjoram
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 medium onion, cut into wedges
- 1 cup thinly sliced carrots
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- Other vegetables as desired: celery, mushrooms, turnips, etc.
- 1 cup whole grain spelt flour (can use whole wheat flour if desired but I haven’t tested that for taste)
- 1 Tbsp parsley
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 beaten egg
- 1/3 cup milk
- 2 Tbsp melted butter
If using prepared chicken that has been cooked into broth:
Remove the chicken onto a plate to let it cool slightly. Chop up the vegetables. Over medium-high heat, melt 2 Tbsp of butter along with enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a large pot. Put the chopped vegetables in the pot and sautee for about 5 minutes. Add about 3 cups of broth from the pot. While the veggies are simmering, tear off hunks of chicken off the bones and put them in the pot with the vegetables. The meat should just come right off, and you don’t have to bother with chopping it up. If necessary, add more broth until the ingredients are just covered. Put in the spices, cover, and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes.
If using chicken parts:
Put the chicken parts (thighs, breasts, legs, etc.) in a large pot with the onions, spices, and 3 cups of water. (If you plan on using a large amount of vegetables, use 4 cups of water.) Cover and simmer for half an hour. Add in the chopped vegetables, cover, and simmer for another 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
Mix together the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl, and form a well in the center with a spoon. Mix together the milk, beaten egg, and melted butter. Pour the wet ingredients into the well and gently mix together with the dry ingredients until just combined. It should form a loose dough. Place spoonfuls of the batter on top of the chicken and vegetables so that they sit on top of the ingredients. Cover with a lid and cook for 10 minutes WITHOUT REMOVING THE LID. They are done when a toothpick inserted in the middle of a dumpling comes out clean.
Serve on plates, or in bowls with extra broth.