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This easy crock pot recipe for Old Fashioned Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings produces dumplings that are light as a feather, in a rich and savory broth. And you get to brag that you made it from scratch! The recipe for old fashioned Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings, from the America’s Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Revolution cookbook, is really, really, really great!
Chicken and Dumplings is Comfort Food
I’ve made chicken and dumplings plenty of times now that I have my own family to cook for. It’s one of our family’s favorite comfort foods, in fact. And it’s one of the dishes that I make that EVERYONE likes: no complaints from any quarter. I used to use the recipe from my Southern Living Cookbook, and they were good, but a little drab.
Then I found a fantastic recipe by Tyler Florence, and it was AWESOME. Good enough to stay with, and never try another version.
A Recipe For Those of Us Who Love Our Slow Cookers
But since I’ve been trying out the recipes from my America’s Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Revolution cookbook, I thought I’d give their recipe for Chicken and Dumplings a whirl, since it required no extraordinary ingredients. I already had everything it called for in the pantry.
What I Didn’t Like About this Recipe:
Browning the chicken thighs was spattery. I just made that word up, but I think it’s self-explanatory. My dog licked the floor in front of the stove. (Gross, right? Gotta mop there, for sure!)
And what is our lesson here, boys and girls?
ALWAYS BLOT YOUR CHICKEN THIGHS DRY BEFORE SAUTÉING THEM.
I found the addition of tomato paste unusual. I know why they did it. It was a depth of flavor idea, to bring out the sweetness of the onions. It added a pale orange cast to the dish, whereas I am used to a white cast to chicken and dumplings, coming from a more cream based/milk based white sauce. It wasn’t unpleasant: the flavor was great. But it did strike me as unusual.
And what is our lesson here? Tomato paste is optional. Use it if you’d like a slightly deeper flavor. Omit it if you’d prefer a less orange colored sauce.
What I Liked About the Recipe:
The dumplings were fantastic. Texture-wise, these were the best dumplings I’ve ever made: very light, not heavy.
The flavor of the dish was fantastic. I think sherry was a great enhancer for developing flavor in the sauce. Definitely a “make this one again” recipe.
Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs are a Timesaver:
Using boneless, skinless chicken thighs was a great call. Nice tender, juicy meat, and it shredded easily with no muss, no fuss from picking out skin (or the fat that comes with that) or chicken bones.
Changes I’d make for next time:
Add Chives to Dumplings:
I might chop up some chives to add to the dumplings. That was something that came from the Tyler Florence recipe that I liked a lot. For me, it would have improved flavor and appearance.
Omit Tomato Paste/Add Cream:
Since I’m missing a cream sauce appearance, I might omit the tablespoon of tomato paste, and maybe add a half a cup of cream as I’m finishing the recipe – and just heat it till it’s warm.
The Only Thing I Did Differently Than The Recipe:
I used homemade chicken stock that I made earlier this week with some old chicken carcasses that I had in the freezer. My chicken stock is better than what comes in a box from the store, as yours would be, as well. But that’s not necessary to do: the boxed stuff is perfectly respectable, and what I would use had I not had any homemade chicken stock on hand.
Tips for making it easier and better:
Pulse Your Onions in the Food Processor:
Since the onions are supposed to be minced, which is a really fine chop, I felt free to use my food processor. So much faster. To avoid making onion mush, pulse your onions in your food processor rather than letting it run. 10 to 12 pulses worked for me. Adjust to what looks right to you with your food processor, but don’t let it turn into mush.
Use an Ice Cream Scoop to Dip Dumplings:
Use an ice cream scoop to get dumplings that are uniform in size, It made scooping the dumpling batter into the slow cooker super easy.
The Recipe for Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings
- INGREDIENTS FOR THE STEW:
- 3 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 onions, minced
- 2 celery ribs, sliced 1/4" thick
- 6 garlic cloves, minced (I used more, because I love garlic)
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
- 1/3 c. all-purpose flour
- 1/4 c. sherry
- 4 1/2 c. low sodium chicken broth, plus extra as needed (Use homemade stock if you have it in the freezer)
- 4 carrots, peeled and sliced 1/4" thick
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 c. frozen peas
- 3 tablespoons freshly minced parsley
- FOR THE DUMPLINGS:
- 2 c. all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 c. milk
- 3 tablespoons butter
- FOR THE STEW: Dry chicken with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a 12" skillet over medium high heat until just smoking. Brown half of chicken lightly on both sides, 5 to 8 minutes; transfer to a bowl. Repeat with 1 T. more oil and remaining chicken; transfer to bowl.
- Heat remaining tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onions, celery, garlic, tomato paste, and thyme and cook until vegetables are softened and lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in sherry, scraping up any browned bits. Whisk in 1 c. broth, smoothing out any lumps; transfer to slow cooker.
- Stir remaining 3 1/2 c. broth, carrots, and bay leaves into slow cooker. Nestle browned chicken with any accumulated juice into slow cooker. Cover and cook until chicken is tender, 4 to 6 hours on low. (It only took mine 4 hours, so you should check yours.)
- Transfer chicken to cutting board, let cool slightly, then shred into bite-size pieces. Let stew settle for 5 minutes, then remove fat from surface using large spoon. Discard bay leaves.
- Stir shredded chicken, peas, and parsley into stew, and season with salt and pepper to taste. (Adjust stew consistency with additional hot broth as needed.) Cover and cook on high until simmering.
- FOR THE DUMPLINGS: Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together in large bowl. Microwave milk and butter together until warm (do not overheat), about 1 minute, then whisk to melt butter. Stir milk mixture into flour mixture until just incorporated and smooth.
- Drop golf ball-size dumplings (here's where I used my ice cream scoop) on top of simmering stew, leaving about 1/4" between each dumpling (you should have about 18 dumplings). Cover and cook until dumplings have doubled in size, 25 to 35 minutes. Serve.
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P.S. What comes to your mind when somebody mentions Chicken and Dumplings?