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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Chicken and Dumplings

Do you ever have a day where you need some comfort food? I have days where I could use a comfort drink and then some comfort chocolate and then maybe a nap... wait, where was I? Ah yes. Comfort food, specifically chicken and dumplings.

My great-grandmother made wonderful chicken and dumplings, I remember them fondly. She made the flat thin noodles with a lovely herby chicken broth and pieces of nearly shredded chicken. She was a terrific southern cook, and had learned the skill as a child. She learned to cook on a wood-stove with no dials or temperature markers. The downside of her years of long practie and skill was she didn't really follow a recipe. With some of her best recipes not written down or written down many many years later there are gaps in my knowledge of her techniques. Much to my chagrin I have never been able to replicate her banana bread and I have her recipe! I am sure that there must have been something she forgot to write down or tell me, or maybe I just lack her innate skill. That at least gives me the comfort that maybe in 60 years or so I can make as wonderful a banana bread as she could.

I beg of you if there is something your family loves to eat, please write it down, show your kids, show your friends. Recipes are a tangible piece of history, a way of preserving culture and memories. When I miss my gramma sometimes I make food that I know she would have liked, even if she made it differently.

My chicken and dumplings today were a cross between recipes from Paula Deen and Alton Brown. I chopped some carrots, onion, celery and garlic and seasoned them with 1 tsp. of house blend. I sauteed them in olive oil in a heavy bottomed sauce pan over medium heat. I chopped 1 pound of chicken tenderloins into chunks and started to brown them with the veggies. After the chicken and veggies had gotten nice and fragrant I added some more house blend, a bay leaf and 5 cups of water. I let that simmer on low while I made the dumpling dough. These make puffy dumplings. I basically just used Alton's dumpling technique. I scooped a half C of broth from the pot and used it to make the dumpling dough.

You put the dough into a ziploc bag with a corner snipped and squeezed them out over the simmering broth (brought back up to medium) and you cut them off in one inch chunks. Then you just put the lid back on the pot and let it all steam and simmer for about 10 minutes.

I must not have been the only one who needed comfort today. There was literally not a drop left after dinner.


  1. I LOOOOOVE chicken and dumplings. Usually I will roast a whole chicken then debone it. Chicken goes in the fridge, all the leftover bits and bones go into a large stock pot with water, salt and pepper, carrots and celery. Leave that on the stove at a high simmer/low boil for the rest of the day. The next day, skim the fat off the broth. Saute some carrots then add the broth and bring it to a boil. Get plain refrigerator biscuits and roll them out a bit (I just smash them with my fingers) using lots of flour. Toss them into the boiling broth one by one. Add frozen peas and the chicken. LOVE.

  2. Oh, that sounds good AND easy! I may try that sometime! I never put peas in mine, because I love peas, but they are the one vegetable my husband truly hates... but I might hold out a portion for him and add them for the girls and me. And roast chicken is very flavorful too, I bet that is wonderful!