Being from the South, I've had lots of Chicken and Dumplings in my life. Everyone has their preference of how to make this dish, especially the dumplings. Some people like super thin noodles while others prefer fluffy, biscuit-like dumplings. There are shortcuts like Bisquick pre-made baking mix or the Pillsbury biscuits or even crescent roll dough in the can. No judgment if you choose one of those options, but I have a new shortcut for this comfort food dish: the Instant Pot.
The Instant Pot is my go-to choice for making soups and stews, and I'm always up for an experiment using my favorite appliance. I started craving Chicken and Dumplings when the weather turned cool during the holidays. If you haven't had it (are there such humans?), it's a soup in which the chicken is cooked in water and the resulting broth is used to cook the dumplings. Whether you make your dumplings from scratch or choose a shortcut, this dish is comfort in a bowl.
The dumpling debate can be intense and has historical and geographical significance. Southern dropped dumplings (boiled balls of dough) and Northern rolled dumplings (pastry rolled and cut into thick, flat, wide noodle shapes) emerged as the two most prominent forms of dumplings in the U.S. after the Civil War. They define the major difference between the Northern and Southern versions of this dish.
Chicken and Dumplings may seem like Depression-era food because the chicken is padded with biscuits. However, a great article by Serious Eats tells the story of the origins of this dish. And despite how we think of chicken today, it was actually a delicacy in the time before World War II. Chickens were raised to produce eggs, not meat, so killing one to serve for a meal was reserved for special occasions, not weekday meals.
Chicken and Dumplings is a recipe that allows for personalization, but in its simplest form, it’s a one-pot meal that tastes much more complicated than it is to make. The homemade stock created in this version gives this dish a solid foundation because of the deep chicken flavor. A double cooking process may seem like overkill, but it builds multiple layers of flavors quickly in the pressure cooker.
Instant Pot Chicken and Dumplings
Scroll down for a printable version of this recipe
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
For the stew:
3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
3 medium carrots, diced
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh ﬂat-leaf parsley, minced
For the dumplings:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes and chilled
2 Tablespoons vegetable shortening, chilled
1/2 cup heavy cream, or as needed
For the stew:
1. Place the chicken thighs in the pot, skin-side down. Add 4 cups water, 2 tablespoons of the butter and 1 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook on high pressure for 10 minutes. Let naturally release.
Note: I used fresh chicken thighs as well as some chicken parts I had in the freezer. Another perk of using the Instant Pot is the ability to cook frozen food quickly!
2. Transfer the chicken pieces to a plate. As soon as they are cool enough to handle, pull the meat from the bones, shred it into bite-size pieces and set aside. Save the skin and bones for the next step.
3. Return the bones and skin to the pot. Add the vinegar. Cover and cook on high pressure for 15 minutes. Quick release the pressure. Strain the stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl and set aside until needed. Discard the solids. Rinse and dry the inner pot and return it to the multicooker.
4. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon butter in the pot on sauté. Add the onion, celery, carrots and thyme and stir to coat. Cook until tender, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the reserved stock and chicken meat and season with salt and pepper. Turn the Instant Pot to the keep warm setting.
For the dumplings:
5. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and pepper in a medium bowl.
6. Work the butter and shortening into the flour with your fingertips until the mixture is crumbly.
7. Slowly stir in enough cream to make a soft, sticky dough that you can roll into small balls.
8. Turn the stew on sauté. Drop the dumplings evenly over the surface of the stew.
9. Cover with a lid (see note below*) and simmer until the dumplings are firm and fluffy, about 15 minutes. Uncover and let stand 5 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and serve warm.
*Note: If you have a tempered glass lid for your Instant Pot, use this for the last step so that you can keep an eye on the dumplings as they cook. The lid that comes with the Instant Pot isn't the best option because on some models, it causes the sauté function to shut off. That didn't happen when I used that lid, however, the pressure came up while the lid was on which meant I couldn't take it off without first turning off the sauté function and releasing the pressure manually. The next time I make this dish, I'll use my CrispLid, which is glass so that I can seal the heat in but still be able to see the dumplings cook.
If you want to learn how to make this traditional dish The Chopping Block way (which does not include an Instant Pot), join us for our virtual Chicken and Dumplings class this Sunday, January 10 at 4pm CST. You can choose to cook along in real-time with our chef or watch as a demonstration. Either way, you'll learn to master:
- Chicken and Dumplings
- Warm Green Bean Salad with Apples, Almonds and Apple Cider Vinaigrette
And once you make a batch of your own Chicken and Dumplings, be sure to share it in our private Facebook group for other members to see. That's this week's #tcbcookingchallenge!