There’s a reason why we as human beings, regardless of our culture, tend to have an item in our edible heritage that can qualify as a version of a dumpling. Ukrainians with perogies; Italians with gnocchi (arguably stuffed pastas as well – though the dumpling-pasta qualification debate can get just as semantically tedious as the sandwich-taco equivalent); the entire continent of Asia with its bajillion types of delicious dumplings at every turn. We all seek comfort food and evidently most of us want it in the form of warm dough.
Chicken and dumplings recipes showcase the dumpling in its most basic form: no filling, no folding, no fussiness – just spoonfuls of dough delicately balanced atop a bubbling skillet of what some might call stew though is really just sauce in excessively excellent proportions. The steam from the stew plumps the dumplings up into little sauce-slicked pillows that inevitably burn your mouth after tempting you to try them too hastily. A classic chicken and dumplings recipe tends to favour the understated look – a lot of beige blandness, perhaps hyped up a little bit with a most austere sprinkling of herbs. It’s never going to be the dish that you do for the ‘gram (though really, your mouth could give a shit about social media).
BA’s version of chicken and dumplings hits the classic markers: modest in appearance, infinitely comforting in taste and texture, with pillowy dumplings that almost remind you of a perfectly steamed bao bun. Plus you get to use a shitload of chicken fat, so that’s always a fun way to test how well your stomach can handle a good greasing. Always being one for a bit of show(wo)manship, my own go-to recipe for chicken and dumplings uses salsa verde, cornmeal, and scallions to amp up the colour and flavour dials. While the dumplings are more cornbready in texture than the classic rendition, they hold up well to the rich spicy sauce beneath. I don’t really care which one you make and neither will you because dumplings are in our DNA and as long as we consume them in some form or another, we’re not completely effing up this human thing (but everything else about us is trash).