Crystal Wilkinson is a Kentucky poet laureate and the author of the memoir Praisesong for the Kitchen Ghosts. This version of chicken and dumplings, an Appalachian staple that can trace its roots back to starchy cassava with vegetables and meat in Africa, is a riff on her grandmother’s. It’s Wilkinson’s fallback comfort food.
Chicken thighs are poached with water and vegetables for a rich-tasting broth that is then used to stew the dumplings in, locking in every ounce of flavor. Be sure to use self-rising flour. It performs far better than any homemade combination of flour and leavening (trust us, we’ve tried), yielding delicate, feathery dumplings.