Round the Table: Instant Pot Chicken and Dumplings

I’ve always thought of Chicken and Dumplings as a distinctly southern dish. As it turns out, I was wrong. Apparently most of America enjoys Chicken and Dumplings, even if we don’t all agree on what Dumplings actually are.

Classic chicken and dumplings have many faces; your favorite is probably the one your mother made.

There is apparently an on-going war between Dumpling camps; there are those that love slicks (or sliders) and those that love floaters (I’m a floater girl).  This preference is not based on lineage but rather geography.  These two style of dumplings both have European origins, so what does it boil down to? Most people like the style of dumpling they grew up with.  If your family was of English descent, you probably ate “slicks” or unleavened dumplings; Italian? Then you probably grew up with a more gnocchi type dumping, and so on and so forth.  The type of dumpling I’m sharing with you today is more like Germany’s spaetzle made from France’s pate a choux.  America is a melting pot, after all.

Sadly, these days, dumplings are becoming a lost art. Too often we rely on boxed chicken stock, canned biscuits or flour tortillas and rotisserie chicken to create this classic American masterpiece.  And there is absolutely nothing wrong with this; I’ve done it many times and these convenience foods create a pretty tasty Chicken and Dumplings. Because, really, who has the time to actually make a pot of old fashioned Chicken and Dumplings? But then, the Instant Pot came into my life and I began to flirt with the idea of Chicken and Dumplings like my grandmother used to make.

Good chicken and dumplings are not a sprint but a marathon, even using the Instant Pot. It requires time and effort and the best ingredients that you can find. It requires patience and attention and love.  Good, homemade chicken broth is nothing less than a pot of gold. It should go without saying that to produce this liquid gold, you need a chicken that is raised on grass, bugs and sunshine. Most grocery store chickens don’t fit the bill. It’s best to search out farm raised chicken for this dish.  So make some effort and find a good chicken, gather those you love and make some memories.

Chicken and Dumplings

Yield: 4

  • 5 to 6 pound stewing chicken, giblets removed
  • 3 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon ghee
  • 7 to 9 cups of water
  • 1 yellow onion, unpeeled and quartered
  • 3 large carrots, washed, unpeeled and cut into chunks
  • 3 Tablespoons of butter
  • 2 ¾ ounces (about 1/3 cup) of all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • Chopped parsley for garnish

Remove bag of giblets from inside the cavity and save for another use. Season chicken with 3 teaspoons of salt and pepper to taste. Select sauté function on the Instant Pot; add 1 Tablespoon of ghee to the and allow it to melt; when it begins to shimmer, add chicken, breast side down and cook, undisturbed for 6 minutes, or until skin is brown. Flip chicken over and continue cooking for another 5 minutes or until skin on the back is brown.  Press the cancel button to stop cooking and add water, onion and carrots to the pot. Place lid on the Instant Pot and lock; turn the vent to sealing. Select the manual setting, which defaults to 30 minutes, so add 5 minutes for a 5-6-pound chicken for a total of 35 minutes. After cooking time is up, allow pressure to naturally release; then flip the vent to venting and allow any residual pressure to release before opening lid.

No need to carefully chop the chicken; simply cool the chicken and use a fork to shred the meat.

Remove chicken from the pot and transfer to a plate until cool enough to handle.  Shred chicken. Discard vegetables and strain broth through a cheesecloth lined colander into a large bowl; discard the solids. Set aside while you make dumplings.

Put ½ cup of the broth, the butter and the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt into a 2-quart saucepan. Set the pan over high heat and bring to a boil.  As soon as it boils, add all of the flour at once and stir with a wooden spoon. The mixture will come together into a ball and will no longer be sticky in about 3 minutes.

Transfer dumpling mixture to a mixing bowl and beat with a hand-held electric mixer on low speed until the mixture is cool and there is no more steam rising; the mixture will be crumbly.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until the egg is completely incorporated before adding the next.  You may need to stop and scrape down the sides as needed.  When the last egg is incorporated, and the mixture is smooth, transfer the dough into a large zip to bag; cut off one corner of the bag to make a quarter-sized opening.

Simple chicken broth is a pot of gold and using an Instant Pot produces a pot of gold almost instantly.

Transfer broth to a large Dutch oven and bring to a simmer.  Squeeze about 1 inch of dumpling dough from piping bag, cut with a pair of kitchen shears or squeeze off the dumplings and let them fall into hot broth.  Continue piping and snipping into hot broth until you have used all the dumpling dough.

Cover and cook dumplings for about 10 minutes or until are cooked through. Remove from the heat and return the chicken to the pot.  Allow the meat to heat through, about 5 minutes before serving.