I recently asked people what they missed most after they became gluten-free.  The number one answer was Chicken and Dumplings followed by Roasted Turkey with Gravy and Stuffing, Chicken Pot Pie, and Lasagna – – comfort foods we all equate with nourishing goodness.

Comfort food and I go back a long way.  Before I was diagnosed with celiac disease, when my tummy didn’t feel right, I would walk to the nearest Brigham’s in downtown Boston and order a hot turkey sandwich.  The plate would be heaped with slices of turkey that had already left their indentation on two slices of Wonder Bread and their intention imprinted on my heart.  The sandwich was swimming in turkey gravy, a mound of sage and celery dressing was casually deposited to the side and a little white pleated paper cup of cranberry sauce was propped against the meat.  It was the only color on the otherwise anemic plate that matched my pasty complexion in those days.   As I took the first bite, a fork full of equal parts turkey, bread and stuffing,  I could feel wellness heading my way.  This was my comfort food.  But, ironically,  I was dosing myself with the same medicine that was making me sick.  Who knew?!

As I got sicker, my craving for comfort food increased.  If it wasn’t a hot turkey sandwich,  I ordered chicken and dumplings, or chicken pot pie.  They engaged my soul and I felt good.  My body, however, was another story.  Hours later, I would feel that familiar tightening in my tummy, that slow burn and indigestion.  By then the memories of my comfort food were far away.  I would not correlate the meal I had eaten four hours ago with the queasiness I was experiencing now.  For many years, I would not realize that the food I loved did not love me back.

When people on a gluten-free diet picked the same foods I craved before diagnosis, it made me wonder if they had similar memories. Perhaps they, too,  remembered the days when they sought out these dishes in hopes of feeling better, in hopes of finding comfort.   Perhaps “comfort food” has a double meaning for all of us who are gluten intolerant – – an unrequited love of old and a new, gluten-free love fulfilled.

Hands down, the ultimate comfort food seems to be Chicken and Dumplings, the recipe I am asked to makeover more than any other.  It sends me back to those days when I tried to find comfort at Brigham’s lunch counter, when I knew something was missing and tried to replace it with a nourishment that was ultimately my undoing.

And it sent me to my recipe files for a makeover because it seems that making this dish into a delicious gluten-free recipe is a challenge.  Readers say the dumplings are too hard, or they break apart in the liquid;  they are too dense, too dry.  I had the same experience at first.  I dug out the dish from my past, the one my mother made in our Yankee kitchen (although this recipe has its roots in Southern traditional),  and I tried to create something equal to the taste and texture of the meal I remembered.  After several tries, I got it just right!

Here’s How I Made it Over 
The first time I made this with a high protein flour blend.  The results were tasty but too dense.  The dumplings didn’t rise and fill the pot as I expected.  Then I opted for a white flour blend and added baking powder and butter.  This time, they were just right.  The dumplings had doubled in size; they filled the pan! The texture was light and they had the mouthfeel I remembered from my gluten-filled years.

The first time, I poached a whole chicken in broth and vegetables, the way my mother had done.  But no one has time to wait that long for a delicious meal.   Next time, I poached boneless chicken breasts.  They take 5 to 10 minutes.  You could also purchase a cooked rotisserie chicken, as long as it’s gluten-free, and remove the meat from the bone.   As a final tip, you’ll want to scoop the dumpling dough onto simmering (not boiling) liquid and cover the pot tightly.  Don’t peek while the dumplings cook. These aren’t as tasty as leftovers, so you’ll have to eat them all in one sitting which should not be difficult.

This is a food that will nourish your soul AND your tummy.

Chicken and Dumplings  Serves 4

Chicken and VegetablesTop Recipe Makeover

1 quart gluten-free chicken stock, more as needed
1/4 cup dry sherry or vermouth (optional)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
2 celery stalks, trimmed and chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
3 medium parsnips, peeled and chopped
2 medium potatoes peeled and cubed
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3/4 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
Ground black or white pepper

Dumplings
(Makes about 12 dumplings)

2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour blend*
3 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 to 3 tablespoons minced fresh chives or other fresh herbs
2 tablespoons butter, melted
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons milk of choice
1 large egg, beaten

Heat the chicken stock to a gentle simmer in a medium saucepan.  Add sherry, if used, and garlic.  Add chicken breasts and salt and pepper to taste.  Poach covered for 5 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the breasts and cool.   Skim foam off the surface of the liquid.

Return the pot of chicken broth to medium-high heat.  Add the onion, celery, carrot, parsnips, potatoes, and thyme.  Cover and simmer vegetables until just fork tender (about 10 minutes), while making the dumplings.

Make the dumpling batter by sifting together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Add chopped chives or other fresh herbs. Add melted butter, milk and egg to the dry ingredients. Gently mix with a wooden spoon or fork until mixture is moist and comes together.  Do not overmix or dumplings will be too dense.

Cube the chicken and return to the pot.  Add additional broth if mixture is too thick or liquid has cooked down too much. Return to a simmer.

Drop dumpling batter into the simmering stew by heaping tablespoonfuls, over the surface of the stew. (Note that the dumplings will double in size as they cook.)  Cover and simmer until dumplings are cooked through, about 15 minutes.   Do not uncover and peek while the dumplings are cooking.  In order for the dumplings to be light and fluffy, they must steam, not boil. Uncovering the pan releases the steam. If after 15 minutes they are still not cooked through (use a toothpick or skewer to test) cover pan again, and cook for another 5 minutes.

Gently stir in peas and parsley. Ladle portions of meat, sauce, vegetables, and dumplings into soup plates and serve. Note that the stew will continue to thicken as it sits.

* If all-purpose flour blend contains salt, do not add additional salt.  If blend does not contain xanthan or guar gum, add 1 teaspoon gum to the dry ingredients.

Here’s the blend I like to use:

Basic Blend
2 ¾ cups rice flour
1 ¼ cups corn or potato starch
1/3 cup tapioca flour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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20 Comments

  1. This sounds so yummy! Thanks for including the info that the dumplings are best eaten right away and not left over. I’m going to have to take a look at your cookbook! From the reviews I’ve read, it sounds like a good addition to my GF cookbook shelf.

    • Hi Jean,

      I hope you enjoy the recipe as much as I did. And the dumplings are defintely better if eaten right away. But, don’t worry. They go down easily; there probably won’t be any left! And look for more comfort foods in the cookbook – – something to fill every craving. Beth

  2. Can’t wait to try these. I’ve been waiting so long for a dumpling recipe. On another note, are you still doing the weekly newsletter? The last one I received was the from Sept. 4th.
    Thanks
    Linda

  3. I tried this recipe using a blend of quinoa, millet and brown rice flours (we are also allergic to corn and soy in our family so we can’t use GF flour blends sold at the market).

    It was delicious. Truly we were amazed at how fluffy the dumplings were.

    I’m writing, however, to let you know that we reheated the soup and dumplings on the stove top, allowing for the dumplings to “steam” a second time. Maybe a total of 10 mins on the stove top to reheat everything well.

    The leftovers, including dumplings, were at least as delicious as they were the day before!

    Thanks for sharing this great recipe!

    • Hi Rebecca, What a wonderful combination of flours. I’m glad you liked them and that they reheated well. I just didn’t want people to be disappointed if they were not as delicious the next day. Thank you for letting me know. Best, Beth

  4. Beth,
    You were right, the foods I miss the most are Chicken & Dumplings and stuffing at Thanksgiving so I was excited to see your recipe. I tried the dumpling recipe but I think I used the wrong flour blend. I would love to hear which blend you use, or if Rebecca could share her ratios in her blend since the dumplings held up so well. It has taken me 3 years to heal enough to start cooking again and I can’t afford the mistakes. I would definitely try his recipe again.
    Thanks,
    Sherry

    • Hi Sherry, I made this with the Gluten-Free Pantry All-Purpose Flour Blend. However, you could also use the Basic Blend in my book or one from Rebecca’s book. I’m not sure which one you used, but any of these should work as well as the King Arthur Flour Blend. Also, when I am not sure a recipe will work or when I am experimenting, I often cut the recipe in half so I don’t spend a lot of money on a dish that I don’t care for. I hope that helps. Best, Beth

  5. Thanks Beth. I am looking forward to trying more of your recipes and then your book. Does Rebecca have a blog as well? I don’t seem to tolerate soy well, so I’m interested to see what she has to say…

  6. Wonderful recipe, very easy and great tasting. I made my own soup and followed the directions on the dumplings. I will be trying more of your recipes. Thank you so much.

  7. Sue MacNeil says:

    I was scared as this was my first attempt at gluten free dumpling but they turned out light fluffy and delicious. I used El Peto gluten free blend. And my stew was turkey, but absolutely yummy!

    • Hi Sue, I just saw a recipe for turkey pot pie in a food magazine and thought it would be good in the Chick & Dumplings. Now that you have led the way, I am going to give it a try, too. It’s that time of year! Enjoy! Beth

  8. Thank you for this wonderful recipe. Since going GF over 10 years ago I’ve pined for my grandmother’s Chicken and Dumplings. Well, the pining is over! I made these dumplings last night and was so pleased with the results.

    I was a bit nervous about substituting flax meal/water for the egg (I’m also egg intolerant), but the texture and taste was still very close to the ones I remember my grandmother making. I may play around with a different flour blend the next time to lighten them up a bit more.

    I’m excited to try some of your other GF recipes. Thank you for sharing!

  9. Turned out perfect! I used buttermilk and a mix of brown rice, white rice, sweet rice and tapioca flours. I’ll let you know if they’re good for left overs.
    Thanks so much!

  10. Yay. I think they will be delish as leftovers, too.

  11. Just wanted to update that these are just as fabulous as leftovers and they met the high testing standards of my not-gluten-free husband:)

  12. These turned out really good – I used a purchased blend of rice, tapioca and potato flours it they were really light – even though I had no milk and I used half-n-half, and I was worried that may make them too dense. This recipe is a keeper!!

  13. I’ve been looking for a fluffy dumpling recipe for the last few years and would like someone to send the ratio of the various flours for their dumplings
    Thanks.

    • Here is the basic flour blend that I used to make the dumplings. I also like the Gluten-Free Pantry Flour Blend. Beth

      Basic Blend
      2 ¾ cups rice flour
      1 ¼ cups corn or potato starch
      1/3 cup tapioca flour

  14. Great to hear from you again. Love dumplings .

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