A deliciously rich homemade chicken stock is used for the base of this warming, healing pot of pure southern comfort food.
Course: Main Course
For the Homemade Low-Sodium Chicken Stock:
1whole chicken cut-up (you can usually find a package with 2 breasts, 2 thighs, 2 wings and 2 drumsticks)
6quartswater (or enough to cover the chicken and vegetables)
4large carrots, cut into large chunks
4stalkscelery, green tops included, cut into large chunks
For the Dumplings:
2cupsunbleachedall-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
2tablespoonscold buttercut into 1/2” pieces
8cupschicken broth or stockhomemade or low-sodium store-bought
To make the chicken stock:
Chicken stock can be made the day before it’s needed. In a large stock pot add the chicken, vegetables and enough water to cover by an inch or two. Heat on medium and bring to a low boil. Cover the pot, turn the heat to low and cook until the chicken is fall-off the bone tender, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Carefully remove the chicken pieces from the broth, and cool, then remove the skin and bones and discard. Pull the chicken meat apart into large pieces. Store the shredded chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Discard the vegetables and strain the broth into a large container. Refrigerate overnight or until ready to make the dumplings. If you chill the stock overnight all the fat will congeal on the top and is easily removed and discarded using a slotted spoon. Set aside 2 quarts, or 8 cups of broth for this recipe and freeze the remaining stock in zip lock bags in 2 or 3 cup portions. Label each storage bag and freeze laying flat if possible.
To make the dumplings:
Put 2 quarts (8 cups) of chicken broth/stock in a large dutch oven or saucepan. Heat on medium while making the dumplings.
In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in the butter using a pastry blender or fork until it’s the size of small peas. Add the milk and mix with a fork until a dough ball forms.
Heavily flour a clean work surface. Prepare a rimmed baking sheet or plate, also dusted heavily with flour. Roll out the dough into a large square using a rolling pin until it’s about 1/8 inch thick. Keep adding additional flour as needed to prevent the dough from sticking on the work surface or rolling pin. Cut the dumplings into pieces about 1 1/2-inches square. Place each dumpling on the prepared pan or plate. Sprinkle more flour as needed in between the layers to prevent sticking.
Turn the heat up under the stock to medium-high and bring to a boil. Add the chopped carrots, then add the dumplings, one at a time, stirring continuously to prevent them from sticking to each other. The extra flour coating the dumplings will help thicken the broth so don’t worry about shaking it off. Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook the dumplings for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently, or until they are no longer doughy. Thicker dumplings may need 5 more minutes to cook, but take care that you don’t overcook to the point they are falling apart. The broth should thicken while the dumplings cook. If you prefer a thicker gravy, see NOTE below.
Add the cooked chicken to the pot and heat until warmed through. Check the seasonings and add freshly ground pepper and salt as needed. Remove the pot from the heat and add stir in the peas. Allow the stew to rest for a few minutes, then ladle into bowls and serve. Garnish with parsley if desired and plenty of fresh ground black pepper. Enjoy!
Note: If you prefer a thicker gravy, mix together 1 tablespoon cornstarch with 2 tablespoons cold water until smooth. Slowly drizzle the cornstarch mixture into the hot broth, stirring constantly, until you reach the desired consistency.