Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Old Fashioned Southern Chicken and Dumplings

Grandma Dover, otherwise known as Brammie and the nicest woman you ever met, was really something special. She had the ability to take 5 white beans, a can of condensed chicken noodle soup and a crushed up bag of potato chips and turn it into a casserole fit for a king that would also feed 20 people.  She was amazing.  She died several years ago, and even though time has passed, it seems like it was just yesterday. I was fortunate to not only know her in my childhood but through my adulthood and my early married life.  She was kind enough to offer to teach me several of her recipes and I was smart enough to pay attention.

She could make wonderful chicken and dumplings. They are southern right down to the (chicken) bone and will go along way to feed a family.  These are not the noodle dumplings.  My Grandma Moore taught me how to make those :) but my favorite will always be my Brammie's. There really is nothing like cutting into a dumpling that is so fluffly inside, you could put butter and eat it like a biscuit.

Today, I am sharing this tutorial on how to make them and I hope that you enjoy them as much as I do!

You will need:
2 or 3 pounds of chicken (skin on, bone in chicken is better but not necessary)
a stick of butter
1 egg
several cups of self rising white flour (whole wheat is too heavy)
salt and pepper
poultry seasoning (or sage, thyme, and marjoram) (optional)

I know that is real vague.  But Brammie did not do measurements, she did it until it "looked right".

Okay so this is how you do it.

Put the chicken parts into a big stock pot with salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, and a half stick of butter. Let that come to a boil and simmer for a little bit - maybe 20 minutes or so?

Break 1 egg into a cup. Brammie said any cup will do, and she commonly used a coffee cup.

Fill the rest of the cup up with milk until the cup is full and whisk the egg and milk together. Pour into a bowl. Begin adding flour a half cup or so at a time.

Keep stirring and adding flour until it is too thick for pancakes and not thick enough for biscuits (unless you were doing drop biscuits). It will hold together and sit on a spoon. Set it aside for a minute.

Go back to your pot of chicken parts.  It should be at a good rolling boil and the chicken should be done or almost done. Take the chicken out and put in a baking dish. Sprinkle it with salt and put it in the oven at 350 degrees.

Add a little bit more water to the pot if you need to and taste the broth you have made - if it is too bland, add salt or chicken bouillon.  The broth needs to be yummy and how you like it at this point!  It will affect the taste of your dumplings.  Once your broth is how you like it  bring it back up to a rolling boil.  That is important. It must be boiling hard!

Once the broth is at a full rolling boil, drop the dumplings in by rounded table spoon fulls.

Keep dropping in the dumplings until they are all in the pot.

It should be looking like this:

Now, put a lid on the pot and turn the heat to medium, you want it simmering but not boiling over the sides of the pot.  Let that cook for 20 minutes.

Take the lid off the pot and you should have this!  A pot full of delicious dumplings.  You also need to take your chicken parts out of the oven if you haven't already!  

This is where me and Brammie part ways.  She would just keep all the chicken parts in the pot, let it all cook together and hope for the best but I don't like my dumplings to absorb all the broth on the first day I have them.  I save that for day two, when I reheat the leftovers! They can get a tad "gummy" in texture by the second day but I like that alright, too!
This is what the dumplings should look like when you cut them open.

Slurp!  So. stinking. good.
Now, the broth may still be pretty thin at this point, if it is then make a roux in another pot. Add equal amounts of butter and flour and cook it together for a minute or two.  Add some of the broth to it and whisk until it is smooth and thick and then add that to the pot of broth where you made the dumpling and stir it all together.  That will thicken it if you want it more like stew instead of soup.  Take some (all) of the meat off the bones of the chicken that you cooked and throw it in there. Throw the dumplings back in and put the whole shebang into a pretty bowl and serve.

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