Budget Meals, Chicken, Depression, Dinner, Easy, Lunch, Main Course, One Pot Meals, Poultry, Regional
Leave a comment

Dumplings with Jane

Clara, my great grandmother, always kept chickens.  And while the majority of the time chickens were for eggs, old layers, non-layers and overly mean roosters made their way into the stewing pot for one of Clara’s specialties – Chicken & Dumplings.

Now, a lot of people make dumplings a lot of different ways; there are those thick, dense almost noodle -like dumplings; there are the globs of biscuit dough plopped on top of the broth; then there is Clara’s way – soft, tender, pillow-y dumplings, barely holding together amongst the rich broth and bits of dark meat.

Jane tells a story of a time just after she married my dad. She had been on the Square in Marietta, doing some bit of shopping, and stopped in at Clara’s just about lunch time. Clara had just made a big pot of dumplings and served her up a bowl. Those same soft dumplings, that rich, flavorful broth – Jane kept commenting on how good those dumplings were.. “The best Chicken and Dumplings I’ve ever had”, she told her.

My great grandmother just smiled and said. “I’m glad you liked them…. but I’ve got something to tell you… That wasn’t chicken…. it was squirrel.”

I had a hankering to make soft dumplings the other day, but since I’ve never made them, I asked Jane how it was done. “Oh, I can make them for you!” she says…

and well… Me (being the kind, loving, dutiful son) didn’t let her weasel out of her offer.

WP_20150115_18_12_35_Pro

Picking you Meat

Truly good dumplings requires a good, rich broth. And like that pot of squirrel, a good broth needs dark meat. You have to have the collagen, fat, blood, protein, and connective tissue stewing away to add bags of flavor to the broth – and you just can’t get that from white meat. So, when possible, buy a package of skin-on thighs or leg quarters to make your broth.

For your broth, you’ll need:

5 to 6 Chicken Thighs – Bone In / Skin On

1 Cup Chicken Stock

3 Cups Water

1/2 Cup Onion – Diced

2 Ribs Celery – Diced

1 Teaspoon Poultry Seasoning

1 Teaspoon Salt

1 Teaspoon Black Pepper

1 Teaspoon Butter

WP_20150115_09_48_30_Pro

Saute the onions and celery in butter and add the thighs.

Pour the water, stock, seasoning, salt & pepper and bring to a boil.

Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 1 hour.

WP_20150115_11_29_04_Pro

Remove the chicken and let it cool a bit.

Skim all the oil from the broth

Discard the cooked skin, and Pull the meat from the bones in large-ish bits

Set Aside.

Now those Dumplings

You’ll need:

1 Cup Self Rising Flour (Always, Always White Lily Flour)

1/4 Cup Lard

1/2 Cup Buttermilk

Extra 1/2 Cup Flour for Working

WP_20150115_18_07_39_Pro

Add 1 Cup of Self Rising Flour to a bowl with about 1/4 Cup if lard

Cut the lard into the flour

WP_20150115_18_10_07_Pro

Add 1/2 Cup of Buttermilk

With a fork, work the mix into a dough

WP_20150115_18_11_05_Pro

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and form into a ball

WP_20150115_18_11_11_Pro

Pat it flat

WP_20150115_18_11_50_Pro

and roll it out about 1/4″ thick

WP_20150115_18_12_47_Pro

Cut into 1″ strips and into 3 ” sections

WP_20150115_09_48_38_Pro

Add your pulled chicken back to the broth and bring up to a light boil

WP_20150115_18_13_49_Pro

Working in small batches, add the dumplings to the heated broth

WP_20150115_18_15_57_Pro

cook for 2 minutes, and carefully turn them over with forks – cook another minute.

WP_20150115_18_17_52_Pro

Gently lift out the cooked dumplings and cook the next batch

WP_20150115_18_55_30_Pro

When all the dumplings are cooked, transfer all the dumplings back to the pot.

(At this point, Clara would have topped the dumplings with an inordinate amount of black pepper… I didn’t do that)

WP_20150115_18_23_10_Pro

Cover, set off the heat, and allow to sit for 15 minutes.

WP_20150115_18_56_44_Pro

Serve them up.

Comment Fodder... pile on