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Apr 11, 2011 09:13 PM

Problem with dumplings in soup (drop-style dumplings, not rolled and cut)

Hi, we tried to make this recipe of pioneer woman's tonight and it was very tasty but we ended up with dumplings that just fell apart and had no body at all -- they kind of flattened out which my partner said seemed like a binding issue. We still have 1/3 of the raw dumplings left and thought we might give it another go with those. Neither of us knows anything about dumplings whatsoever so maybe we did something wrong. Below is a link to her recipe, a copy and paste of the ingredients and directions, and what we did.

Please don't tell us just to use Bisquick like a lot of people did in her comments. We'd just like to know if there's something we could do differently to make these work better. We do have some leftover egg whites and from something else I read it might be worth trying to add some, maybe with some extra flour, to get them to hold together.

Original recipe for "chicken and dumplings" (it's really more of a soup)

Dumpling section ingredients and directions:

■1-½ cup All-purpose Flour
■½ cups Yellow Cornmeal
■1 Tablespoon (heaping) Baking Powder
■1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
■1-½ cup Half-and-half

While chicken is simmering, make the dough for the dumplings: sift together all dry ingredients, then add half-and-half, stirring gently to combine. Set aside.

Remove chicken from pot and set aside on a plate. Use two forks to remove chicken from the bone. Shred, then add chicken to the pot. Pour heavy cream into the pot and stir to combine.

Drop tablespoons of dumpling dough into the simmering pot. Add minced parsley if using. Cover pot halfway and continue to simmer for 15 minutes. Check seasonings; add salt if needed. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving

What we did:

We made these using fresh unbleached all-purpose flour rather than regular all-purpose.
We used brand new aluminum free baking powder.
We mixed half 2% milk and half heavy cream instead of half and half.

The dumplings sat unrefrigerated for about 15-20 mintues before adding.
The soup was at a simmer, not a boil or rolling boil when we added them.
After 15 minutes the dumplings seemed very loose and not cooked enough, so we cooked them for 15 minute more but they seemed the same. We let everything sit for 10 minutes and still the same.

They were tasty, just too soft and fall-y apart, no body, and not round at all.

Thanks for your thoughts! Again, not really looking for alternate recipes which we can do just fine, but rather how to make this one work better if possible. General dumpling tips would be OK too.

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  1. OK. To the leftover dumpling mixture (less than half) I added 1-1.5 egg whites, enough flour to thicken it to a very thick consitency again, and a dash more baking powder -- what can I say I'm a cook not a baker -- strained some of the soup to get some liquid, added water to get more liquid, and made about a dozen new dumplings that are good enough for us! A little less egg white next time as they were a touch heavy, but not too much so. What a difference, however well they turned out, the idea of the original recipe is still intact for us after all our original hard work. Good night!

    1. The recipe you printed has way too much half-and-half. My mother made chicken and dumplings quite frequently, with great success. Here are the ingredients and quantities she used for light, fluffy, dumplings with a shape that resembled biscuits. These never fell apart.

      1 cup sifted flour
      1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
      ½ teaspoon salt
      2 tablespoons vegetable oil
      1 egg, slightly beaten
      ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons milk

      The recipe you posted had a ratio of 4 parts flour/cornmeal to 3 parts liquid, , whereas my mom's has roughly three times as much flour as liquid, a ratio of 4 to 1. If you're wedded to Rhee's recipe, next time try it with just 1/2 to 2/3 cup half and half.

      1 Reply
      1. re: janniecooks

        Thanks for the great feedback jannie and everyone else. Jannie interesting what you point out about the ratio, that seems like what I'm looking for to explain the problem. Love to try that recipe you posted next time, thanks again!

      2. Need eggs to bind.
        I make a dumpling made of 50% farina, 50% grated Parmesan or Pecorino and 2 eggs.
        I drop them into simmering, salted WATER, not the broth. I allow them to cook, remove and then put them into my chicken soup. It reduces the amount of stock absorption into the dumpling. They can really swell up!

        4 Replies
        1. re: monavano

          Why do you want them not cooked in broth? Seems tastier than water alone. Why not reserve a portion of broth for cooking the dumpling separately, then add them to the soup. Also I see she says to cover the pot halfway, if you cover the pot all the way and trap the steam rather than allow it to escape you will steam and boil the dumplings at the same time and they will be lighter and fluffier.

          1. re: rezpeni

            I don't like them absorbing a lot of my broth. Believe me, a good handful of Pecorino and they are plenty tasty. I found that as they sat in the soup, they expanded and sucked up most of the broth that I want to slurp!
            As far as steaming, no. I make my dumplings quenelle-size and pretty much as soon as they float, I take them out.
            It's working for me, so there's my 2 cents.

            1. re: monavano

              Yah but if you cook them in their own separate broth until they are fully cooked and have absorbed all the liquid they need then you get the best of both worlds :) Even with quenelle sized trust me, try the covered pot trick and see if they aren't lighter. There is nothing happier than opening a foamy pot of broth to find a fluffy dumpling floating atop the bubbles.

              1. re: rezpeni

                Mine are fluffy and soft!
                Not. changing. method!
                More than one way to skin a cat and all that ;-)

        2. This is interesting because that recipe is very much like the one I use that you roll and cut. I agree w/ Monavano about using an egg for the type of dumpling you want.

          1. Fluffy drop dumplings that steam to cook on top of the soup or stew need to actually sit on top of the solid ingredients. If there's too much broth or gravy the dough will sink too far down into the liquid with the results that you describe. If there's too much liquid in the pot, ladle some of it out, reserve and keep hot, steam your dumplings as directed, and then add the hot reserved liquid to the individual servings (or back to the pot) after the dumplings are cooked. I agree there's too much half and half in your original recipe. You should not need eggs to bind it because the type of dumpling you're describing is actually a kind of biscuit dough using moist heat to raise and cook it.

            An aside about Bisquick and Jiffy mix. There's really nothing all that wrong with either pre-made mixes. In fact, a quick search will yield up recipes for making your own biscuit mixes to keep on hand for the same uses. If you make several things on a regular basis that call for these ingredients it's very handy to have the basic mix on hand, either commercial or your own made, and they are very easy to modify and add to.

            3 Replies
            1. re: morwen

              Yeah, I just wanted feedback on this recipe hence my mention of bisquick, not that there's anything wrong with it, and yes, if I were to use a mix like that I'd make it myself, it's so simple what's the point in buying it. But also, the powdered ingredients in this and other recipes I've seen are so simple I can'[t imagine really the point to making it all into a mix instead of just making it as needed.

              It turned out stil fluffy with the added egg white to save it -- it was probably good I happened to have egg whites leftover so by not adding yolks it didn't make it heavy.

              I'd say I'm pretty sure the dumplings were on top of the mix and didn't sink in much, though. I'm sticking with the not enough flour to water explanation.

              1. re: Ianto2000

                FWIW, your post made me crave chicken and dumplings so I have stock cooking on the stove right now.

                1. re: chowser

                  I tend to have that effect on people lol. These really did come out as perfectly as I could want after my doctoring up. Her recipe I think was more work than necessary for the whole deal but it sounded like fun, took a couple hours somehow. She has you brown the chicken pieces and add apple cider to the recipe which make hers potentially different.