Remembering Brownie: Chicken and Dumplings (or Biscuits)

Mildred “Brownie” Schrumpf preceded me here in the Bangor Daily News with her weekly column which she penned for about four decades and which many of you remember and from which you clipped recipes like Hazel Varisco of Stonington did . I like to remember Brownie on the April anniversary of Taste Buds, now merely a dozen years old. I had help this year thinking of what to write about Brownie when Hazel sent along a recipe for Chicken and Dumplings from Brownie’s Kitchen.

Hazel wrote, “This dish is easy and tasty. I don’t always do the dumplings. We like biscuits and always some leftover to toast for breakfast.” Brownie designed this version of chicken and dumplings to be lower in fat and salt and jazzed up the dumplings with parsley. Now I am here to tell you that the prospect of dumplings on some meaty stew or other makes the males of our species swoon though I haven’t met one yet that will turn down homemade biscuits, either. No matter which you choose to make, you’ll be fine.

Brownie recommended boneless skinless chicken breasts. I prefer bone-in thighs or you could buy chicken pieces or quarters or, as a cheaper option, even buy a fryer and cut it up into pieces yourself. Leaving the bone in adds flavor. In stews, the skin is more expendable but I always leave it on when baking chicken even if I don’t actually eat it.

Brownie added celery, onion, and carrots in amounts guaranteed to improve flavor, but I favor a larger vegetable population. Use two or three carrots, two or three ribs of celery, a whole big onion chopped. Consider a few peas, too. With added vegetables, your chicken and dumplings become a one-pot meal that needs only salad on the side.

One more thing: not all dumplings have to have an egg in them; if you skip it, just add a wee bit more milk. Parsley is good and so are dill and chives. If you want to gild the lily, stir in some parmesan cheese.

Brownie’s Chicken and Dumplings
Serves: 4
  • For the stew:
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • ½ cup thinly sliced carrots
  • ½ cup thinly sliced celery
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped onion
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • ¼ cup milk
  • For the parsley dumplings
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  1. Using a 5 quart Dutch oven, heat the vegetable oil over a medium heat, then add chicken a few pieces at a time.
  2. Cook for ten minutes, turning each piece until lightly browned on all sides. Remove chicken and set aside.
  3. Add carrots, celery and onion and cook, stirring frequently until onion is lightly brown.
  4. Stir in chicken broth, lemon juice, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil.
  5. Return the chicken to the pot, cover, and reduce the heat to simmer.
  6. Cook for ten to fifteen more minutes or until the chicken is nearly tender.
  7. To make the dumplings, stir the egg, milk, and vegetable oil together; in a separate bowl, stir the flour, parsley, and baking powder together then add the egg and milk mixture, and mix just enough to make a stiff dough.
  8. Drop dumpling mixture by spoons full on top of the chicken. Cover and steam for about ten minutes.
  9. Remove the chicken and dumplings to a serving platter and keep warm. Whisk together the cornstarch and milk, and add to the cooking liquid stirring constantly, and heat over medium heat until the gravy thickens.
  10. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste. To serve, pour gravy over the chicken and dumplings.


Sandy Oliver

About Sandy Oliver

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working Waterfront. Besides freelance food writing, she is a pioneering food historian beginning her work in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house. After moving to Maine in 1988, Sandy wrote, Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century published in 1995. She is the author of The Food of Colonial and Federal America published in fall of 2005, and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtin. She often speaks to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history and in sustainable gardening and cooking. Sandy lives on Islesboro, an island in Penobscot where she gardens, preserves, cooks and teaches sustainable lifeways.