Chicken and Dumplings with Butternut Squash and Cognac

Depending on where you grew up and how your grandma made it, chicken and dumplings can take on many forms. The broth can be creamy and thick like a casserole or thin like a soup, the chicken varies from stewed and shredded to crispy-skinned and whole, and the dumplings range from fluffy mounds to doughy strips. The question of which is “best” can be a downright hot-button topic. Despite its multifarious charms, its purpose on American plates is singular: homey comfort food at its best.

My grandma’s Southern interpretation of chicken and dumplings set the bar for me: rich slow-cooked broth with juicy shredded chicken and thick, rolled and cut dumplings. It’s hard to improve upon what you grew up eating. So rather than try to improve or replicate, I set out to modernize, ever so slightly, this imitable dish. Homemade broth, crispy-skinned chicken, an abundance of bright herbs and dumplings that are Southern in design but fluffy too are the makings of this next-generation recipe.
By / Photography By Kathryn Brass-Piper | October 07, 2015


Season chicken generously with salt and pepper. Melt ghee in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add chicken and brown thoroughly on each side, 5–7 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a plate and drain all but 1 tablespoon of fat from pot.

Add bay leaf, thyme, shallot, celery, and carrot to pot and cook for 5 minutes over medium-low heat. Add cognac and bring to simmer, scraping browned bits from bottom of pot. Add broth and water and bring to a boil. Return chicken to pot, skin side up, reduce heat, cover, and very gently simmer for 1½ hours.

Carefully remove chicken from pot and transfer to a baking sheet. Adjust oven rack to be about 7 inches from heating element and set your oven to broil. Broil chicken until skin is crispy, about 5 minutes, rotating pan as needed.

Meanwhile, bring soup to a gentle simmer and add squash. Add 1 tablespoon mounds of dumpling dough to simmering broth, you should make about 20 dumplings. Cover and gently simmer for 10 minutes.

Ladle broth with vegetables and dumplings into shallow bowls and top with pieces of chicken. Sprinkle with herbs and serve.


Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Add yogurt and stir until a dough forms.

NOTE: Have your butcher cut the whole chicken into 8 pieces for you, reserving the wings, neck, and spine to use in homemade chicken broth. For the recipe, visit


  • 1 (4–5 pound) organic chicken, cut into 8 pieces (see note)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons grass-fed ghee
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, plus more for serving
  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 celery stalk, sliced
  • 1 large carrot, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • ¼ cup cognac or sherry
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ small butternut squash, halved, seeds removed and sliced
  • Dumpling Dough
  • Fresh parsley and chives, for serving
Dumpling Dough
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Pinch ground nutmeg
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk yogurt
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