Grandma's Chicken & Dumplings
Hey good-lookin'...what's cookin'?
Memories in the making and the baking
So today was one of those days that begs for comfort food. It was cloudy, drizzly, and rainy…thank the Good Lord…and we needed something warm and rich to comfort us. It was the perfect day to make Grandma’s chicken and dumplings.
The only problem was that I don’t really know how to make chicken and dumplings without using a can of biscuits. You know the kind…the cheap ones that you pop open with a butter knife and then pinch off and throw into the pot of boiling chicken and broth. And I didn’t have a can of biscuits.
But my 11-month-old granddaughter and I needed something good to eat. We also needed something to occupy our time and our hands on this drizzly day. So I pulled out an old cookbook that was put together by the ladies of the church I used to attend, figuring there would be one in there.
Sure enough, my friend Lucy had published her recipe for chicken and dumplings. And they were the old-fashioned kind of dumplings…made with flour and shortening, salt and baking powder and milk. They were the kind my mother used to make, but she never used a recipe to make them and therefore didn’t hand down her specifications to the next generation…Me.
So I set the chicken to boiling in the pot and got the recipe's other ingredients out of the cabinet. Then Baby Dear and I made us some dumplings.
I measured the flour, the salt and the baking powder and sifted them all together while Baby Dear sat in her high chair, contentedly tossing cereal in the floor and saying “Uh-oh” in her sweet little voice.
I cut in the shortening with a potato masher because using a fork seemed like too much work. And that worked really well. I added milk and kneaded the dough in a bowl. When I placed the dough on a sheet of waxed paper, I handed B.D. a handful of it and she “rolled it up and rolled it up” and threw it in the floor with the Cheerios. And she laughed and snorted and I laughed and snorted along with her.
I rolled out the dough with my mother’s old rolling pin that’s missing both handles. That rolling pin must have rolled out hundreds of thousands of biscuits and pie crusts in her time. When the dough was thin enough…about 1/8 of an inch…I cut it into strips and B.D. watched as I tossed each piece into the pot of hot broth.
Next I took all the ragged ends of the dough that was left over and rolled them in sugar and cinnamon. Then I placed them on a cookie sheet and put them in the oven, to bake a special treat for my little helper…just like my mother used to do.
When they were baked, B.D. and I shared the little bits of sugary dough while we waited for the dumplings to cook. I improvised and added a cup of milk and a dash of cream to Lucy's recipe...like my mother used to do it.
When all the cooking was finished, Baby Dear and I shared her first serving of Grandma’s chicken and dumplings.
B.D. heartily approved. After she finished eating Grandma’s chicken and dumplings, she crawled around on the floor and played with her toys, satisfied and comforted by the warm food.
I was satisfied and comforted as well. Yes, the dumplings were good. But most of all I was comforted by using my friend’s recipe and my mother’s rolling pin. It was so lovely to remember all the good times shared in those kitchens. And it was lovely to share a good time in my kitchen with my own little granddaughter.
That’s what comfort food really does…it nourishes your heart and soul. And my heart and soul are very full right now.
More heart-warming recipes are in Heart & Soul Food: Tales of Food Family and Friends.
Heart & Soul Food: Tales of Food, Family and Friends. Recipes and Stories to Nourish Your Heart and Soul satisfies both palate and soul with heart-warming stories and family recipes. Author Peggy Browning shares her cherished memories and recipes of simple, inexpensive, Southern-style comfort food from chicken and dumplings and oven-fried chicken to her favorite cakes, pies & cookies. Sure to satisfy heart & soul. Reminisce simpler times and memories and relish the delicious, easy recipes. This is true comfort food from recipes shared by family and friends. Come to Peggy's kitchen and enjoy yourself with good stories and good food.
- Whole Chicken or 4 Chicken Breasts
- 3 cups Sifted Flour
- 1 tsp. Salt
- 2 tsp. Baking Powder
- 1/2 cup Shortening, (I used Crisco)
- 1 cup Milk
- Cut chicken into serving pieces and place in large kettle with salted water to cover. Cover, bring to boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cook until chicken is tender. While the chicken is cooking combine flour, salt, baking powder. Cut in shortening with pastry blender or fork (I used a potato masher...it really doesn't matter what you use.) Add milk and mix well. Turn dough out onto lightly floured board or pastry cloth and knead lightly. Roll out to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into strips. When chicken is tender, drop strips into kettle. Cover and continue simmering 20 minutes.
- I prefer my chicken & dumplings to have milk and cream in them. After the dumplings were finished cooking for 20 minutes, I added 1/2 cup of milk and 1/2 cup of cream to the mixture. Delicious!