Like most Southerners, my earliest food memories come straight from my grandmother's kitchen. It was in that Georgia kitchen I learned to make her famous chicken and dumplings.
I vividly remember her digging a well in the flour and slowly mixing in the milk with her hand, then quickly rolling out the dough with the ease of a pro. Under her watchful eye, I was allowed to cut the dumplings into rectangles and plop them into the boiling water.
It wasn't until I was older that I realized her famous "from scratch" dumplings were actually made from Bisquick mix. I know many people use boxed mix, but to find out my grandmother did definitely rocked my (little) world. After the initial shock wore off, I took the recipe into my own hands. A tough job, I know, but somebody's got to do it. It's been a few years now, and these homemade dumplings have been tweaked and tasted to perfection. Hopefully it will bring you a little Southern comfort on these chilly fall nights.
Side note: I know there is some controversy about whether the dumpling dough should be "dropped by rounded tablespoons" into the boiling broth or rolled out and cut. Not to ruffle any feathers, but I'm pretty dead set on the latter. It's how Nana does it, so it's how I do it, too. How do you make your chicken and dumplings?
Chicken and Dumplings
Serves 6 to 8
For the chicken 1 large fryer chicken, neck and gizzards removed 1 onion, cut in half and peeled 3 carrots, cut into large pieces 3 stalks of celery, cut into large pieces Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
For the dumplings 3 cups White Lily all-purpose flour or cake flour 3/4 teaspoon baking soda 3/4 teaspoon table salt 4 1/2 tablespoons shortening 1 cup milk (or just enough to make the dough stick together)
For the chicken Place the chicken, onions, carrots, and celery in a large stock pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat so water maintains a gentle simmer. Cook chicken for approximately 1 hour or until chicken is cooked through (approximately165 degrees).
Once chicken is cooked, remove from the broth and allow to cool. Remove chicken from the bone and shred into medium-sized pieces, discarding bones and skin for another use. Pour the chicken broth through a fine mesh sieve lined with cheese cloth, discarding vegetables. Reserve 6 cups of the broth for the dumplings (the rest can be used for another time).
For the dumplings Mix flour, baking soda, and salt together in bowl. Cut shortening into flour mixture with fingertips until it resembles small peas. Add milk -- 1/4 cup at a time -- and stir until a ball of dough just begins to form, being careful not to over-mix. Roll out the dough onto floured surface, about ¼ inch thick. Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut dough into rectangles or squares. Place strips on wax paper and allow to harden up a little, approximately 30 minutes.
Over medium-low heat, bring broth to a gentle simmer and drop in dumplings. Cover and allow to cook for 6-7 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add chicken. Allow to cook until thickened, approximately 15-20 minutes, or longer. Season generously with salt and pepper.