November 04, 2007

Chicken & Dumplings

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.


Julie said...

Hi, Charles -- I'm catching up on some back blog reading. This looks like a delicious meal, and just about perfect for the cold weather we have to look forward to for the next couple of months.

Charles said...

Julie - The almanac is calling for a mild winter, - I hope they're right. But I'm using the calendar as an excuse for soup season, whatever the temperature is!

White On Rice Couple said...

I was just talking to a friend the other day about making chicken and dumplings, something I did not grow up with. Finding your post is a treat and your recipe looks like a great start for me. My boyfriend will be so excited, for I love making him his favorite food comforts. I learn so much in the process. Thanks!

Charles said...

Hi, umm, -- rice,
Hope this helps you. I also like learning to make foods I didn't grow up with. Stretches the boundaries. I also like figuring out how my grandmother made my favorites. My sister and I are currently in a race to decode her "spaghetti & cheese". Anyway, hope this helps you.