Sunday, November 7, 2010

Chicken & Dumplings

As the weather turns cool and the days get shorter it seems as though the need for foods to warm our bodies and comfort our souls become the order of the day replacing those light and cool days of summer, I'll share a secret here, "I crave these foods all year long." One of my favorites for as long as I can remember has been chicken & dumplings. They seem to put a smile on my face on gloomy wet days and warm the body like wrapping in one of Granny's quilts while enjoying the fire in the fire place.
This is my granny's recipe that I grew up eating. I have tried quite a few variations, some where closer to chicken soup. While good they get away from the basic simplicity that makes this dish truly delicious, celebrating the star of  the show. The chicken. Enjoy!

Prep time: 30 min                      Cook time: 2 1/2 hrs

Tools: Large stock pot, fat separator, tea ball


3 bone in skin on chicken breasts
2 1/2 quarts water
2 bay leaf
2-3 cloves garlic( paper on)
8 peppercorns
1/2 tsp thyme

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup shortening
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning (or 1/4 tsp each thyme & sage)
1/3 cup milk


Place a large stock pot on medium high heat add the water bay leaf, garlic and chicken. add the thyme and peppercorns to the tea ball and drop into the pot with the chicken.

As the  the pot starts of come to a boil reduce the heat to med low cover wit the lid cocked off a little and simmer for 2 hrs. After about 30 min skim any of the protein scum from the pot replace the lid and continue the simmer.

After the two hours turn off the heat and remove the chicken to a plate and allow to cool. Remove the tea ball,bay leaf and garlic.

Over a large bowl place a strainer lined with two layers of cheese cloth and pour the chicken stock through the lined strainer. Ladle the hot stock into a fat separating cup and pour the de-fatted stock back into the stock pot.

Remove the skin from the breast meat and pull off the bones tear the meat into pieces about 1/2 " x 2 " place in the refrigerator.

To make the dumplings sift 1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour  together with the baking powder, poultry seasoning, and salt into a mixing bowl. Add the shortening and rub into the flour with your fingers until it looks like little pebbles.
 Form a well in the center and add the milk pull the flour from the outside and work to the center mixing until the dough forms a ball.

Knead the dough 4- 5 times reshape into a ball and allow to rest 5 min. Cut the ball into 4 equal pieces then cut those pieces in 1/2. Roll the pieces into ropes 1/2 - 3/4 " in dia. using a sharp knife or a dough blade cut the ropes into 1/2" pieces.

Bring the stock pot back to a low boil add the dumplings a few at a time place the lid on the pot leaving a little space for the steam to escape and simmer 20 minutes. When the dumplings are no longer floating  they are done. Turn off the heat and add the chicken back to the pot let stand 5 min to reheat the chicken prior to serving.

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