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Before we get to the chicken and dumplings, let’s talk kitchen equipment. I want to share with you one of the gifts that I received at my wedding shower, one that I treasure. It wasn’t something shiny and new, right out of the box. Instead, it was this:
What you see above is my grandmother’s roaster. She passed away shortly before my wedding after battling dementia for several years, and it meant a lot to receive this part of her kitchen, by way of my aunt. I may not remember all the particulars of what she used to cook in this pot, but I think about and miss her every time I use it. And I do use it, quite a lot.
I didn’t take a photo of the bottom, but the Dutch oven is marked with the Magnalite brand and Wagner Ware company name with Sidney, Ohio, underneath. If you’ve never heard of it, Magnalite is an aluminum alloy that Wagner developed back in the 1930s. Magnalite cookware is still made today, but by the American Culinary Corp., which purchased Wagner in 2000.
For more history, check out this timeline. One interesting tidbit: Supposedly, the popularity of cast Magnalite cookware eventually allowed Wagner to acquire its longtime competitor, Griswold Manufacturing. You might know one or both of these company names as manufacturers of the really good vintage cast iron skillets!
Using this Magnalite roaster myself, I totally get the appeal. It’s lightweight and conducts heat well (those handles can get HOT), while also being more responsive to temperature changes than, say, an enameled cast iron Dutch oven.
As a result this pan has become my go-to cooking vessel for anything large or awkwardly shaped. I can fill it with a heavy roast or a dense stew and still be able to lift it, which is a huge plus. (Despite a growing collection of dumbbells in my “home gym,” body builder I am not.) Its size and shape make it the perfect pot for a hearty batch of chicken & dumplings. I like to think that Grandma would approve.
This recipe for chicken & dumplings is based on this one from Better Homes & Gardens. I’ve made some efforts to simplify the recipe, however, such as substituting milk and vinegar (which I always have on hand) for the buttermilk (which I never have on hand). I’ve also used butter in place of shortening for the dumplings, and incorporated parsley to give them a little extra flavor. Feel free to take or leave any of these modifications.
- 2 lbs bone-in chicken parts, skin removed (I buy bone-in breasts or a "split fryer" and break it down into 4-6 pieces)
- 3 cups water
- 1 medium onion, cut into wedges
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp dried sage
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup sliced celery
- 1 cup sliced carrot
- 1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/2 tbsp white vinegar
- 1/2 cup 1% milk
- 1/2 cup cold water
- 5 tbsp all-purpose flour
- Combine the chicken, water, onion, salt, sage, pepper and bay leaf in a large Dutch oven and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 25 minutes.
- Add the celery, carrots and mushrooms. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and the chicken is cooked through. Remove the bay leaf and arrange the chicken on top of the vegetables.
- Meanwhile, prepare the dumpling dough. Combine the vinegar and milk and set aside for 10 minutes, until it thickens. Then, combine the flour, salt and parsley in a bowl. Cut the butter into cubes and work it into the mixture with a pastry cutter, fork or your hands. Stir in the buttermilk just until combined.
- Spoon the dumpling batter on top of the chicken in six mounds. Return the pot to boiling, then cover and simmer 10 to 12 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in a dumpling comes out clean. Remove the dumplings to a plate or bowl and cover to keep warm. Use a slotted spoon to remove the vegetables and chicken to another bowl. Remove the chicken from the bone and shred it. Discard the bones.
- Return the pot with the cooking liquid to the pot over medium heat. Mix the cold water into the flour in a small bowl, then add to the pot. Cook and stir until thick and bubbling. Add the chicken and vegetables back to the pot and stir to combine and heat through.
- To serve, ladle chicken and vegetables into bowls and top each with a dumpling.
Nutrition facts calculated using bone-in skinless chicken breast