Chicken Champions

Bon Appétit’s Chicken and Dumplings Take Forever to Make but Are Worth the Effort

published Mar 25, 2020
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chicken and dumplings in a dutch oven
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk; Design: The Kitchn

Most chicken and dumpling recipes are designed with ease in mind — including our own. After all, it’s a homey, comforting dish that we believe should be weeknight-friendly (especially these days, when we’re all craving quick comfort in a bowl). But when it came time to choose chicken and dumpling contenders for our celebrity recipe showdown, we wanted to include a variety of recipes, from the very easiest to the more involved. After all, it was possible that a more labor-intensive recipe could be worth it if it produced outstanding results.

For that reason, we slotted in Bon Appétit’s recipe, which has you make your own stock, shred a whole chicken, and use some rather niche ingredients. We were curious to see if the payout would be worth the effort? Could something as simple as chicken and dumplings be elevated to a gourmet experience? We took to the kitchen to find out.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk; Design: The Kitchn

How to Make Bon Appétit’s Chicken and Dumplings

Bon Appétit’s chicken and dumplings is time-consuming and labor-intensive, so bear with me: You’ll start by adding chicken legs, a leek, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, thyme, parsley stems, a bay leaf, whole peppercorns, and water to a pot. Bring to a boil and let it simmer until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken and shred, then strain the stock, add it back to the pot, and season with salt.

Next, you’ll heat chicken fat in a skillet over medium heat. Add chopped carrots, celery, and onion, and cook until softened, then season with salt and pepper. Add flour, cook until the veggies are coated, then transfer the mixture into the hot stock. Cook the veggies in the stock — whisking to combine the flour into the liquid — until they are tender and no lumps of flour remain.

In a medium bowl, combine baking powder, baking soda, salt, pepper, and flour. Add buttermilk and chicken fat and stir to create a dough.

Add heavy cream and shredded chicken to the stock mixture, bring to a simmer, and drop tablespoons of the dough on top. Reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid, and let the dumplings cook. Remove the lid and garnish with chives.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

My Honest Review of Bon Appétit’s Chicken and Dumplings

This recipe was a delicious interpretation of chicken and dumplings. The sauce was incredibly flavorful, with a pleasant richness from the chicken fat. It was perfectly seasoned, hearty, and exactly what I think of when I picture “comfort food.” I also loved the flavor that the leeks added. The dumplings were also delicious and perfectly seasoned, and boasted a delicate, airy interior.

That said, this recipe isn’t for everyone. If you want a cooking project that will take practically all day to pull off, this is for you. You have to make homemade stock, strain it, shred the chicken, make the sauce base, and then the dumplings. For something as homey as chicken and dumplings, it’s a lot of work — and there are easier recipes that produce similar results.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

If You’re Making Bon Appétit’s Chicken and Dumplings, a Few Tips

1. You can use butter instead of chicken fat. If you can’t find chicken fat, use butter in its place.

2. Don’t skip the leek. The leek in the stock gave this chicken and dumplings a wonderful onion-y flavor that made it stand out from the rest; if you can get your hands on one, don’t skip it.

3. Don’t be afraid of the salt. At one point in this recipe it instructs you to add over one tablespoon of kosher salt to the homemade stock — which might sound like a lot but it’s needed. Follow the recipe and don’t be nervous.

4. If you want to get ahead, make the soup base ahead of time and add the dumplings at the last minute. The recipe states that you can prepare the soup base up to three days in advance, heat it up, and cook the dumplings right before serving. Because this recipe is such a project, this could be a great way to prep most of it in advance and finish it the day-of.

Rating: 8/10

Have you ever made Bon Appétit’s chicken and dumplings? Tell us what you thought!

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk; Design: The Kitchn