What a wonderful way to use up leftover Thanksgiving turkey. If you should have any. Shredded turkey swimming in a creamy, gravy-like sauce, speckled with carrots, celery and onion and topped with surprisingly light dumplings. All the flavors of pot-pie with half the work! Because that is what I originally intended to make but found myself short on time today so I opted NOT to make pie dough and these dumplings instead. Delicious!
Of course, this recipe can be made with chicken. It can also be made with bone-in chicken that has not been cooked, as it was originally intended to be made by Cook’s Illustrated, where I found the recipe upon which this one is based. In the original recipe, chicken thighs are browned in a dutch oven until nice and brown and then removed. This is the base of the flavor that you build in the pot and the chicken is returned to the pot once veggies have been softened and broth has been thickened up. The chicken finishes cooking in a slow simmer. Buuut, since I had leftover turkey, I skipped this browning step and added butter to the dutch oven to cook down my mirepoix instead of chicken fat. Add some flour to make a sort-of roux, whisk in a bit of dry sherry to de-glaze the pan and then add in your broth. Homemade turkey both if you have it because this will really beef up the flavor in this dish, which is especially important if you are not browning (when using leftovers). Make your own broth with leftover turkey or chicken bits and pieces next time you roast a whole bird. But that is a post for another day. Anyway, after you mix in the broth, add in some thyme and a bay leaf and let it simmer for about 30 minutes, covered to meld the flavors and thicken the sauce. After that time, add in a few cups of shredded turkey and some frozen peas.
The dumplings are a cinch. An easy dough of flour, baking powder, salt, milk and butter (or chicken fat if you browned your meat and have some reserved) is mixed together and dropped into the simmering bath of turkey delight and cooked until doubled in size. The secret to these dumplings, according to Cook’s is that the milk and butter must be warm (not hot) when you add it to the dry ingredients of the dough so that the flour “sets” and doesn’t absorb much liquid in the broth and therefore does not become leaden. You know you’ve had those dense unpleasant dumplings before. Yea, these are NOT those.
So below I’m going to include a PDF of the full “chicken and dumplings” recipe, adapted from Cook’s. If you are using leftover meat, just follow the directions I outlined above or summarized in the asterisks in the recipe. I know I will want to refer back to this recipe when I don’t have leftover turkey so I think this makes the most sense. You could even make this with shredded rotisserie chicken but I say if you have time, make it from raw chicken to get as much flavor as possible.
Chicken and Dumplings
(Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated)
Ingredients for the Stew:
- 5 lbs. bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
- 4 tsp. vegetable oil
- 4 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 4 carrots, peeled and sliced ¼ inch thick
- 2 ribs celery, sliced ¼ inch thick
- 1 large onion, minced
- 6 tbsp. unbleached, all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup dry sherry
- 4 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth (homemade if possible)
- ¼ cup whole milk
- 1 tsp. dry thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup frozen green peas
- 3 tbsp. minced fresh parsley leaves, or 1 ½ tbsp. dried
- Pinch of nutmeg
- Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
Ingredients for Dumplings:
- 2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 cup whole milk
- 3 tbsp. reserved chicken fat (or unsalted butter)
- Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper on both sides
- Heat 2 tsp. of oil in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking
- Add half of the chicken and cook until golden on both sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate and remove the browned skin. Pour off the chicken fat and reserve. Repeat with remaining chicken and chicken fat.
- Add the butter to the dutch oven and melt over medium-high heat
- Add the carrots, celery, onions and ½ tsp. salt and cook until softened, about 10 minutes.
- Stir in the flour and cook for about 3 minutes
- Whisk in the sherry, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan
- Stir in the broth, milk, thyme and bay leaves
- Nestle the chicken, with any accumulated juices, into the pot
- Cover and simmer until the chicken is fully cooked and tender, about 1 hour
- Transfer the chicken to a cutting board
- Discard the bay leaves
- Allow the sauce to settle for a few minutes and then skim the fat from the surface using a wide spoon
- Shred the chicken, discarding the bones, then return it to the stew
- Make the dumpling dough (don’t make the dough earlier than this step, you want it to still be a bit warm): Stir the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Microwave the milk and fat (or butter) until just warm (don’t overheat it). Stir the warmed milk into the flour mixture until incorporated and smooth
- Return the stew to a simmer, stir in the peas, parsley and nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. Drop golf-ball sized balls of dumplings over the top of the stew, about ¼ inch apart
- Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the dumplings have doubled in size about 15-18 minutes. Serve
*If you are using pre-cooked meat, like left-over turkey, skip the initial browning steps and proceed directly to cooking the vegetables. Add the meat in just before adding the peas, parsley and nutmeg. You will only need to simmer the broth for about 20-30 minutes instead of 1 hour, just long enough to thicken the sauce and allow the flavors to meld together.