Friday, May 25, 2012

My Momma and Grandmomma's Chicken and Dumplings

This is home cooking. Soul food. Yum food. Happy food. Chicken and Dumplings.

Here's the recipe card (I used to spell my grandmother's name Mama when I was little. We called her, "Mawmaw." The spelling caught on, though, and we just never stopped. Go figure. :)


See this? This is butter. Butter is your friend. Real butter is good, good, good, and in the South, we almost always use the salted butter even if a recipe calls for unsalted butter. Yum.

Tip: I always intend to soften butter ahead of time, but it rarely happens. Sometimes I will turn on my oven, and put the butter by my oven vent, as shown, to soften it. This tip is especially good for this recipe because the butter doesn't need to be too soft. 
Step One: Fill your pot between 1/2 and 3/4 full.

No this is not a pot filler. No that machine in the background is not a dialysis machine for my sink. It is a Kangen water machine. I will post about it sometime in the not too distant future because it helps the pH in your body - great for Lupus patients among other things.

Step Two: Salt the water well. I just always make sure I can see salt all over the bottom of a pot. No reason other than the fact that I know I enjoy salt, and it helps season the chicken.

These are the two kinds of chicken I bought for this recipe. Buying two kinds is really not a big deal in this case because check out the prices! These are bone-in chicken thighs and...

...chicken legs. You can use chicken breasts or boneless, skinless stuff, but your chicken broth that you make will not be as flavorful and rich and your meat will not be as moist. I am usually a white meat girl, but this is an exception!

Step Three: Salt the tops and bottoms of the thighs and legs.
Step Four: Bring water to a rolling boil. This is what a rolling boil looks like. See? The water is rolling with bubbles. My explaination would probably be more effective as a video clip, but you get the idea.
Step Five: Add all of the chicken to the pot. Bring the water back up to a boil, and...

...put a wooden spoon on top.

I saw a Pinterest post that said that the wooden spoon keeps the water from boiling over. The water usually boils over any time I boil anything, and it didn't this time! Cook the chicken 20 - 30 minutes. I probably cooked it 30, because at some point I got distracted. It happens.
Meanwhile, make dumpling dough:
Step Six: Measure flour. You need to use White Lily Self-Rising Flour. I believe it is probably a Southern thing, but no other flour comes close to its flavor. You need this kind. You need it. 
In this picture is a very special little one cup measuring cup. Doesn't it make you smile? Yellow should make you smile. I've been measuring flour in this cup since I was about three years old. :) Anyway, measure out two cups of flour...
...and put it in the same blue bowl that you've been using since you were three years old. Doesn't the color scream late 80's? 
 Hear a swoosh at the back door. "Please, please let me in!" Go let the poor, spoiled, little stinker inside. "Play with me!" he demands. "I can't play right now, short stuff," I say.
"Aw, shucks," he says.
Don't feel sorry for him. He proceeds to sleep in his posh doggie bed which is basically two pillows that used to be ours. Once he claims something, it's usually his forever...

Shake your head at the spoiledness of your dog as you walk back to the kitchen.

Step Seven: Add semi-soft butter to the bowl. Soft butter is easier to mix. Cold butter usually makes fluffier dumplings.

Step Eight: Cut the butter into the flour.

Basically, you squish the butter and flour together in an attempt to blend them together. The best you will probably get is a bunch of pea-sized butter and flour pieces mixed into the flour. That's ok. The milk will fix it.  


Step Nine: Add milk (forgot to show that part...whoops), and mix well until the dough looks like it does in this picture to the left.

Note: You can use broth instead of milk. Milk makes fluffier dumplings. Broth makes them a little chewier.

Step Ten: Cover the dough and pop it in the fridge until you are ready for it again. I'll explain why in a bit.
After your chicken has cooked 20-30 minutes, it will look like this.

Step Eleven: You may remove the wooden spoon from the top, and remove the pot from the heat.  
Step Twelve: Remove the chicken from the pot.

Note: It is a good sign when the meat is falling off the bone like this.
Step Thirteen: Discard skin, and shred the chicken with two forks.
Yes, I know. I usually like putting the meat in the food processor or Kitchenaid mixer so that it can be shredded all nice and fine, but with chicken and dumplings I like big chunks of chicken. The chicken should more or less be falling apart anyway at this point, so it won't be too difficult.

This is all of the meat from the chicken legs. See why I wanted the meat from the thighs, too?

And sorry about the grease-smudge on the camera lens! 
And here's all of the meat after I have shredded the thighs, too. Much better. It feels good to be a meat-eater. :)

Step Fourteen: Add the chicken back to pot of broth that you made.

Step Fifteen: Add about 3c. of water, or enough to make the broth level rise to just under 3/4 full.

Step Sixteen: Add pepper, a bit of extra salt, and the remaining butter. Stir.
Step Seventeen: Drop dough with a tablespoon. Since you have refrigerated the dough, the dough will initially sink to the bottom of the pot. This is a good thing! If you did not have time to refrigerate the dough, it is ok. Just poke each one down into the broth once. Do not mess with them too much or they will fall to pieces.

You can add dumplings as small as these...
...and as big as these! If they fall apart, it is ok.

Note: If you are really determined to keep the dumplings from falling apart, my mom says my grandmother used to roll out the dough, cut them apart, and freeze them before dropping them into the broth. That's just too much work for us. Patience is a virtue, not a requirement.
When all of the lovely dumplings are in the pot, it will look like this at first. What a happy sight! :)

Again, leave them alone while they cook so they won't fall apart.

After they have been cooking 2 - 3 minutes, take one of the bigger ones out, and cut it in half. It should look like the dumpling pictured on the left, pillow-y.

When they look like this inside, they are done, so take the pot off the heat! (If you cook them too long, they will just melt into a soupy mess.)

Enjoy, my friends!

My Momma and Grandmomma's Chicken and Dumplings
Click here for printable version
4-5 bone-in chicken legs
4-5 bone-in chicken thighs
2 c. White Lily self-rising flour
2/3 c. milk or broth
1 stick slightly softened butter, divided
1/4 t. pepper
salt to taste
Fill a large pot a little more than half full with water, and salt well. Bring to a rolling boil. Season chicken with salt, and add to pot. Cook 20-30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. While the chicken cooks, make the dumplings. Cut 5T. butter into flour. Add milk (or broth), and mix until well blended. Cover dough, and place in fridge. Shred chicken with two forks. Add chicken, remaining butter, pepper, 3 c. water, and a bit more salt to the pot. Bring to simmer. Drop mounds of dough into pot by tablespoons. Poke each dumpling down into the liquid once if they do not initially sink on their own. Leave them alone while they cook 2-3 minutes, or until done (fluffy inside).
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  1. Came here from Pinterest and I love your recipes. I grew up in the South so I can relate! Yes, the measuring cup made me smile because I am using the very same ones! I bought them eons ago from Tupperware.

    1.'ve got to love those bright yellow measuring cups. I think they make everyone smile. Good to meet a fellow Southerner!

  2. Yumm, just found your site and can hardly wait to make this recipe. I'm originally from Texas and my Mama used to make this dish after church on Sunday's. Ohhh what food memories! I also have the yellow measuring cups and the old metal one.

  3. Hooray! Thank you for sharing this recipe! I "helped" make this once, but didn't write down the recipe, so of course forgot half of it.

    Keep up the great work.


  4. Thanks for this post. These are like the dumplings my Mom made when I was growing up. She's from South Carolina. I have never seen anyone post this kind of dumplings (which are the real kind). Instead I have found lots of recipes for rolled dumplings. Your use of "White Lily" flour also made me smile - that's the kind my Mom used. Too bad it's not available everywhere.

  5. Going to try that recipe today, thanks for showing a nicer way of cooking this recipe.
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