Chicken and Dumplings is a top five comfort meal for my husband. His mother makes a great version which I have used to build my own recipe. It was her idea to use refrigerated biscuits as the dumplings and it works so well. The best part is I don't have to make a mess on the counter rolling and cutting dough. This recipe makes a lot so I suggest ladling into mason jars and gifting them to others.
2 cups shredded chicken (*see note below)
2 tablespoons olive oil (I like California Olive Ranch EVOO)
1 yellow onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks of celery, sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons sherry
6 cups chicken stock (I like **homemade or Better than Bouillon paste mixed with water)
1 bay leaf
Fresh herbs. I use a bundle of fresh herbs tied together with kitchen string (I use whatever leftover fresh herbs I can find in my fridge.) Thyme, oregano, and rosemary are all great choices and I also chop fresh herbs to add at the end.
1 can refrigerated biscuits
1 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup whipping cream
Kosher salt and pepper
*I prefer to buy a rotisserie chicken or use leftover chicken when I make Chicken and Dumplings. I rarely make chicken specifically for this recipe, but if I were to cook chicken I would season 3-4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts with olive oil, salt, and pepper and bake in a 350 oven for 30 minutes or until fully cooked.
**After I pick the meat off the rotisserie chicken, I put the leftover chicken pieces and bones in the pressure cooker along with all the scraps and skins from the diced onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. Fill with water and season with a heavy pinch of salt, pepper and throw in extra herbs. Cook on high pressure for 30 minutes to 1 hour depending on how much time you have. Strain broth through fine-mesh strainer into clean container, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible; discard solids. Using a large spoon, skim excess fat from surface of broth. (Broth can be refrigerated for up to 2 days, or frozen for several months.) The intense heat of the pressure cooker promotes the extraction of flavor compounds from bones, skin, and encourages the breakdown of proteins into peptides, which produces noticeably rich meatiness. I wrote more on this topic in the post, Homemade Stock.
In a large Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute the onion, carrot, and celery until onion is translucent but not browned. Add the garlic and stir for 60 seconds. Pour in the sherry and stir.
Add chicken stock, bay, thyme and any other aromatics at this point. Bring soup to a boil. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Some people prefer white pepper in chicken and dumplings because they say the black flecks in the creamy white soup is off-putting. I do not care either way, and while I have white pepper in the pantry, I keep black pepper in the cabinet by the stove. I typically use black pepper. You do you.
Cut each biscuit into 8 pieces like you would a pizza. Working slowly, add a few biscuit pieces at a time to the soup. They will swell, and you will think that the meal has been ruined. Give it some time, and the dumplings will absorb all the flavors of the soup and then condense into perfectly soft but solid pillows you would expect in your Chicken and Dumplings dinner. Keep adding a few at a time, stirring occasionally so that they do not stick together.
At this point, I fish out the bay and herb bundle because we are about to add the chicken and this soup is getting really thick.
Add the frozen peas, chicken pieces, more fresh herbs if you like and turn down heat to low. Stir in the white wine and cream. Taste for seasoning and make any adjustments if needed.
This is a really great compassion meal. Let the soup cool a little and ladle into mason jars to share with someone who could use a homemade dinner.