It was cold and windy this morning. Well, not really cold, more like chilly. But it was windy. And since it was the first really chilly morning we've had this autumn, I decided to push the issue, and declared it a soup day. Initially I had set my sights on a hearty gumbo, with shrimp, andouille, chicken, and maybe catfish. When I got to the grocery store though, they didn't have very good shrimp, or catfish, but they had 10 lbs. of chicken leg quarters for $5.00. So Gumbo gave way to chicken and dumplings. I usually toss in a couple slices of lemon, but again, the only lemons I could find were in 2 lb. bags, and I didn't need that many. It's not that I couldn't find uses for them, I just couldn't find uses for them before they turn bad. But I had a couple limes at home and figured they'd substitute nicely. (which they really did, I may start using limes by default on this one)
I'm sure there are a million ways to make chicken and dumplings, but this is the way I do it, which really works well on a cold day. This recipe is adapted from Southern Living's "Cooking across the South".
5 lbs. of chicken. (dark meat works best)
1/2 an onion, sliced
1 stalk of celery, with leaves if possible, chopped.
2 slices of lime (or lemon)
2 bay leaves
6-7 whole peppercorns
Arrange a layer of the chicken pieces in the bottom of a pot. Add about half the onions, celery, a slice of lime, a bay leaf, and some of the peppercorns. Another layer of the chicken, and the rest of the aromatics, and seasonings. Cover all that with water, and bring it to a boil for 10-15 minutes. Let that cool. I usually take the chicken out with tongs, and put it in a collander. Then run cold water over it. When it's cool enough to handle, you want to get the skin off, and de-bone the chicken, returning the meat to the stock. Once you have all the meat back, let it simmer, covered, for about 2 hours. Meanwhile, you can make your dumplings. After 2 hours, add the dumplings, and let simmer, covered, for another 30 minutes.
For the dumplings I use:
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup shortening
1/2 cup milk with 1 egg mixed in
Mix your dry ingredients, cut in the shortening, and add the milk and egg mixture a little at a time until you have a fairly firm dough. Roll it out to about 1/4" think, then cut your dumplings. I usually use a pizza cutter and cut 1" strips, then cut on a diagonal to get diamond shaped dumplings.