Chicken and dumplings in July? Well, I don’t defend it as a dish that screams “summer,” but I happen to appreciate comfort food any time of year. Besides, I had a rooster in my freezer who needed to be cooked. It’s true! He came from my brother-in-law, who keeps (and occasionally dispatches) chickens. This particular guy had been a bit of a trouble maker… I could tell by looking at the scrawny bird that the meat would be a bit tougher than a conventionally raised chicken, so into the pressure cooker he went—along with some carrots, celery, thyme, and, at the end, biscuit-dough dumplings. My pot of comfort turned out fantastic, and I came away with two firm convictions:

1. I adore my pressure cooker. You can cook a chicken AND make stock in less than an hour—and still be able to use the meat from the bird. Compare that to traditional stock, where you cook chicken pieces for hours to extract flavor, leaving the meat exhausted, depleted of flavor, and pretty much unusable. I’m more than a pressure cooker convert; I’m an evangelist. It’s like magic, turning out—dare I say—better food than my slow cooker has ever produced.

2. The flavor of a chicken that’s honestly “natural,” that roamed and lived its life as an animal, is incredible. This bird didn’t taste like brine or chicken broth or some other form of saline injection so common in grocery-store poultry; it tasted like chicken. He was scrappy, but what he lacked in size, he made up for in flavor. The dark meat was a revelation! It was deeply dark, and more intensely flavored than any chicken I’d had before, with a chicken liver-y richness. Real food = real good.

Tell us: Are you also smitten with your pressure cooker? If so, check out our favorite pressure cooker recipes. Or have you also had an epiphany moment with farm-to-table food? And if you, too, crave comfort food despite the summer heat, try one of our best chicken and dumplings recipes: Chicken and Rosemary Dumplings, Herbed Chicken and Dumplings, or Chicken and Dumplings. Plus, see more of our top-rated chicken recipes.