Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Remembering Lucille

When I mentioned recently to a friend that I was making chicken and dumplings, she asked if I made my own dumplings or used canned biscuits?  I always make my own dumplings, and you should too!!!  It is SO SIMPLE and it makes a huge difference in the taste.  Plus, when you roll out dough, no matter how simple the recipe, you feel like you've really done something special.   And you have!!!

I can remember standing on a chair at the counter with my Mamaw (Lucille) making chicken and dumplings with her.  So, when I do something like this, I always travel back in time to 1986 and cooking in that tiny kitchen on Harrison Hill!

So here is our simple recipe for delicious chicken and dumplings:

4 large fryer chicken breasts
3/4 - 1 stick of butter
4 cups of milk
Salt and Pepper (to taste)

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus about 1 cup to flour your rolling surface
1 tsp salt
Ice cold water
  • Place chicken in a large pot and cover with water.  Salt and pepper liberally! (I like to use fryer chicken breasts with the bone in and fat left on because it adds so much flavor to your stock.  We'll remove it later.)
  • Boil chicken until juices run clear.
  • Remove chicken from pot to cool. Turn heat way down.
  • While chicken cools, toss your butter in the pot of chicken stock.
  • Make your dumplings. Combine flour and salt with a fork and add ice water until you begin to get a good dough consistency.  You don't want to use too much or you'll never be able to get your dough to stick together.  This is the part that takes practice.  I would say you'll need no more than 1 1/4 cup of the ice water. You may add extra flour to your dough to get it right. :)
  • When you get a good doughy ball, scatter about 1/2 cup of flour on your rolling surface.  Flour your rolling pin too. Use all of your dough to roll one hugs sheet about 1/8 - 1/4" thick.
  • Use a sharp knife or a pizza cutter (super fun and super easy way) to cut your sheet of dough into long 1" strips.   Then, go back and cut across so that your dumplings are 2 - 3" long.
  • Your chicken should be cooled by this point, so remove it from the bone into bite sized pieces and return to your pot. 
  • Add milk and turn up heat on pot until you get a slow boil going.
  • Now you're ready to add the dumplings.  Separate them so you don't wind up with a big clump of dough.  Drop in 2 or 3 at a time all around the pot.  Some will float, so dunk them under with your spoon so they begin to cook.
  • After you've added all of your dumplings, this will need to simmer for about 30 minutes more.  Stir occasionally to prevent sticking and clumping.
Ya'll enjoy!  These are better the next day, so make enough for leftovers!  I made a variation of Mamaw's "Cheesy Spaghetti" recently, but you would have gained 10 pounds from this post instead of 5 if I'd have shared it... so another day! :)

Do you have a favorite recipe from your childhood?

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