Chicken and Dumplings

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My grandmother was famous for her chicken and dumplings, at least I always believed she was. Then I grew up and realized that everyone’s grandma, mom, aunt, sister, and/or cousin had one.

Unfortunately, there was no recipe for these. My grandmother would just toss things into a bowl and whip them up. These are not the soft fluffy biscuit type dumplings. I have heard them called chicken and sliders and also chicken and noodles when made by others.

Pre-internet days before I knew “everyone” had a version and I could simply search for a recipe, I spent years trying to make them like my grandma. My mom’s best friend’s mother  spent an afternoon with me once and showed me how she made hers. They were just like my grandma’s! You would think I would have written down quantities, but nope. I was certain I could manage. The first time I made them her way, they were moon rocks. They were a little flavorless too and the broth base needed help.

I went back to the drawing board and tried again. Eventually I was able to turn out some pretty decent dumplings myself. At the end of the day, I had no recipe either. It was by feel and look. I tried to teach my aunt, the one who liked to cook and had held on to those frozen strawberries to make them but she could only produce moon rocks too. I knew it was time to start measuring things.

Home-style cooking felt like it was a dying art of sorts and that I needed to get my recipes organized and written into a format my kids and their kids could use. This was probably when the food blog seed was planted. It started as a manila folder filled with recipes and tweaks, and a ton of hand written notes on scratch paper, many were just ingredients without any titles or directions. I had to look at those “recipes” and try to make sense out of them.

It certainly took longer for this seed to bloom than those juicy ripe tomatoes from my grandparent’s garden.

This makes a lot, I never learned how to make this for anything less than a small army!

Chicken and Dumplings
6 Chicken breasts with bones and skin, can substitute 1 or 2 rotisserie chickens
Chicken Broth, I usually use a couple of boxes plus a couple of cans
Chicken Base to taste
6 stalks of celery, leafy parts too, cut into big pieces
1 large onion quartered
1/4 to 1/2 cup dried parsley, or one bunch of fresh parsley
8 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out dumplings
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup rendered chicken fat, use more butter if your chicken does not produce much fat
1 cup of milk
6 beaten eggs

Put the first 6 ingredients into a pot and add enough water to completely cover the chicken. ** If using a rotisseries chicken, remove bones and skin, use those in the brother, reserve the chicken meat for later. Bring it to a boil, then turn it down and simmer for about 2 hours, skim any fat off the top as it comes up and put it in a bowl.

Strain the broth and put it back into your pan. If it is too salty add water until it suits your taste. If it is too weak you can simmer it down more or add more chicken base.

If the chicken had little fat on the top add about 1/2 stick of butter to the fat, you want about 8 tablespoons or more of fat and/or butter total. Add around a cup of milk and 6 beaten eggs.

Place 8 cups of flour into a big bowl. Make a well in the center and add all of the butter, fat, milk, egg mixture and stir. If it seems too dry add some broth from the pan. If it seems too wet add flour a little at a time. It should be a little sticky.

I use the countertop and flour it well. I put some of the dough on the counter and put more flour on top of it and roll them out about ¼ inch thick. (You might have to do this in batches.) (I use my pizza wheel to cut them)

Bring the broth back to boil, drop in the dumplings one at a time so they don’t stick to each other. Once they are all in the pot boil them for about 5 to 10 minutes and stir often so they don’t stick to the bottom and burn. Then put a lid on them and turn the heat off. Let them sit for about an hour.

You will probably have to make them a few times to get the right thickness and boiling time for your liking.



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