Chef Eric Cook, one of four children, grew up rabblerousing in Arabi. His mother worked for the Archdiocese of New Orleans, his father as the pharmacist at the original Schwegmann’s Supermarket on Broad Street. The family took meals seriously, with Mom cooking a delicious one-pot something or other on weeknights and Dad cooking up the haul from his hunting and fishing excursions on weekends. If it was your birthday, you could request whatever you wanted for dinner. Eric always requested this dish. When he opened Gris Gris, he did so with this special dish on the menu. “Now I can have it whenever I want it,” the chef said.

  1. A large rotisserie chicken is the way to go here. Just pull it apart and reserve the bones for stock
  2. The dumplings are a special treat, but this quick stew is just fine over rice or buttered noodles, too.

Mom’s Chicken and Dumplings

Adapted from Chef Eric Cook, Gris Gris, and St. John Restaurant

Serves 6

Chicken Stew

6 tablespoons salted butter

1 cup chopped yellow onion

1 cup matchstick or medium diced carrots

1 cup diced celery

4 cloves garlic, minced

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

12 oz (1 can) evaporated milk

32 oz (1 quart) chicken stock

4 cups shredded cooked chicken

1 tablespoon fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme), plus additional fresh thyme leaves for serving

2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper (or to taste)

1. .In a large heavy bottomed pot, like a cast iron Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium-high heat. 

2. Add the onion, carrots, and celery. Cook for 5 minutes, until vegetables begin to wilt. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute more.

3. Add the flour and stir to combine. Cook until blended, about 1 minute.

4. Add the evaporated milk and chicken stock and quickly stir to combine. 

5. Bring to a boil and add chicken, thyme, black pepper, and salt. Let the stew simmer, uncovered, while you make dumplings. 

Dumplings

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon, baking powder

1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)

3/4 cup whole milk

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 tablespoon fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)

2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper (or to taste)

salt, to taste

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, pepper, salt, and thyme. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour the milk and butter into the center of it. 

2. Using a wooden spoon stir the ingredients together until dough ball forms. If the dough seems dry, add an extra tablespoon of milk. 

3. Using a small ice cream or cookie scoop, scoop dough and drop directly into the simmering stew. Gently scatter them around the pot so they will not clump together in the same place. Gently press them down so they are just under the surface of the stew. 

4. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium-low/low (you do not want to scorch the bottom of the stew, but you want it to simmer to cook the dumplings). 

5. Cook for 15 minutes, gently stir the stew and dumplings then fish out one dumpling and sacrifice it to science: Cut it in half. If it is the same opaque texture all the way through it is done. If it is doughy in the center cook the remaining dumpling for 3 minutes longer. Take care: If you cook too long the dumplings will fall apart. 

To Serve

Serve each part of the chicken and dumplings with a generous scatter of fresh thyme leaves.