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Chicken & Dumplings

Sometimes we need a recipe that is simple, rustic and undeniably comforting. It doesn't need to boast outstanding nutrition or elegant flavors; sometimes we find our joy in the simple, earthy goodness of a warming country dish. Chicken and dumplings is exactly that kind of dish.

This may look like a complicated recipe, but it comes together in relatively few steps and is very easy to make. The puffy dropped dumplings soak up the flavors of the sauce and pair wonderfully with meaty chicken and lightly sweet peas.

This is home cooking at its best and simplest, and makes a perfect meal to cozy up with on a cold winter’s day.

Recipe adapted from:The Smitten Kitchen | Serves: 6 to 8

5 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
salt and ground black pepper
4 teaspoons vegetable oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium leeks, white and light green parts only, cut in half lengthwise and then into 1-inch pieces
1 large onion, minced
6 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
4 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth
¼ cup whole milk
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
1 cup frozen green peas
3 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon leaves
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk + 3 tablespoons reserved fat or unsalted butter
1. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add half the chicken and cook until golden on both sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate, remove the browned skin and pour off the chicken fat. Reserve this for the dumplings. Repeat this process with the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil and remaining chicken.

2. Add the butter to the Dutch oven, melt over medium high heat and add the leeks, onion and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook until softened, about 7 minutes. Stir in the flour, then whisk in the sherry, scraping up any browned bits. Stir in the broth, milk, thyme and bay leaves. Nestle in the chicken with any accumulated juices. Cover and simmer until the chicken is fully cooked and tender, about 1 hour.

3. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board. Discard the bay leaves. Allow the sauce to settle for a few minutes, then skim the fat from the surface using a wide spoon. Shred the chicken, discarding the bones, then return it to the stew.

4. Make the dumplings by stirring the flour, baking powder and salt together. Microwave the milk and fat on high until just warm (do not overheat) for about 1 minute. Stir in the warmed milk mixture with a wooden spoon until incorporated and smooth.

5. Return the stew to a simmer, stir in the peas and tarragon and season with salt and pepper. Following the steps below, drop golf-ball sized dumplings over the top of the stew about ¼-inch apart. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the dumplings have doubled in size, 15 to 18 minutes. Serve immediately.