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How to Make Dumplings

Dumplings are spoonfuls of dough steamed in soup or liquid until cooked through. Learn how to make a classic savory version here. We also talk about sweet dumplings and guide you to a recipe.

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What Are Dumplings?

There are two types of dumplings: savory and sweet. The savory version is dough or batter that is dropped atop a soup or stew and cooked until soft and breadlike inside. Savory dumplings can be stuffed with meat or cheese, or the dough can have mixed-in ingredients such as onions, cheese, or herbs. Savory dumplings are usually made with flour, such as all-purpose flour or a mix of wheat and cornmeal or other desired flours. Sweet dumplings are quite different. The most common varieties consist of fruit encased in pastry and baked. A favorite to try is Big Apple Dumplings.

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How to Make Chicken and Dumplings

Following is a classic version of one of the most popular dumpling recipes: Chicken and Dumplings. This recipe involves simmering chicken pieces in a seasoned homemade broth, mixing and cooking the dumplings, and making a gravy to cover everything. The recipe serves six and takes 45 to 50 minutes to make, from start to finish.

1. Cooking the Chicken

  • In a 4-quart Dutch oven or pot, add 2-1/2 to 3 pounds bone-in meaty chicken pieces (such as breast halves, thighs, and drumsticks) that have been skinned (you can use skin-on chicken, but you will want to skim the fat off the broth before adding the dumplings).
  • Cut 1 medium onion cut into wedges and stir it into the pot. Add 3 cups water, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon crushed dried sage or marjoram, 1 bay leaf, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.
  • Bring the chicken mixture to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 25 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, thinly slice 2 stalks celery and 2 medium peeled or scrubbed carrots. Slice 1 cup button or cremini mushrooms. Add the celery, carrots, and mushrooms to the chicken mixture. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, about 10 minutes more or until the vegetables are tender and the chicken is no longer pink (170˚F for breasts; 180˚F for thighs and drumsticks). Discard bay leaf. Use tongs to rearrange the chicken pieces on top of the vegetables in the pot.

2. Adding the Dumplings

  • In a medium bowl combine 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cut in 2 tablespoons shortening with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add 1/2 cup buttermilk and, if desired, 1 tablespoon snipped fresh chives, stirring just until moistened. 
  • Spoon the dumpling mixture into six mounds on top of the chicken. (Do not spoon the dumpling mixture into the liquid.) Return to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 12 to 15 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the dumplings comes out clean. Do not lift lid while simmering. With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken, dumplings, and vegetables to a serving platter. Cover with foil and keep warm. Reserve the cooking liquid.

Tip: You are steaming the dumplings, so it is key that the air in the pot is hot and steamy. This is why it's so important to not lift the lid while the dumplings are cooking.

3. Making the Gravy

  • For gravy, measure 2 cups cooking liquid in a glass measuring cup and skim any fat from the liquid. Discard the fat. Return the 2 cups liquid to the Dutch oven. In a small bowl stir together 1/2 cup cold water and 1/4 cup all-purpose flour. Stir the flour mixture into the liquid in the Dutch oven. Cook and stir with a whisk over medium heat until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 1 minute more. Serve the gravy over the chicken, vegetables, and dumplings.

How to Make Dumplings

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