From America's Test Kitchen Season 11: Dutch Oven Classics
Chicken and dumplings make chicken pot pie look easy. There’s no disguising a leaden dumpling. One goal was to develop a dumpling that was light yet substantial, and tender yet durable. The other was to develop a well-rounded recipe that, like chicken pot pie, included vegetables, therein supplying the cook with a complete meal in one dish. Dumplings can contain myriad ingredients, and there are just as many different ways to mix them. We tried them all—with disastrous results. But when we stumbled on a unique method of adding warm liquid rather than cold to the flour and fat, our dumplings were great—firm but light and fluffy. The reason? The heat expands and sets the flour so that the dumplings don’t absorb liquid in the stew. The best-tasting dumplings were made with all-purpose flour, whole milk, and the chicken fat left from browning the chicken.
We strongly recommend buttermilk for the dumplings, but it’s acceptable to substitute ½ cup plain yogurt thinned with ¼ cup milk. If you want to include white meat (and don’t mind losing a bit of flavor in the process), replace 2 chicken thighs with 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 8 ounces each). Brown the chicken breasts along with the thighs and remove them from the stew once they reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees, 20 to 30 minutes. The collagen in the wings helps thicken the stew; do not omit or substitute. Since the wings yield only about 1 cup of meat, using their meat is optional. The stew can be prepared through step 3 up to 2 days in advance; bring the stew back to a simmer before proceeding with the recipe.