November 11, 2013

Old Fashioned Chicken and Dumplings

Let it be said that I titled this "dumplings" for the sake of the search engine. But we all know down here that it's dumplin's. So hence from this day forward, we're calling it dumplins.

Now....I heard the weather man say this morning that there was a cold front sweeping across the country that would affect 28 states. So although I had intended to share a pie recipe with you today, I rushed to get this chicken and dumplins recipe in your hands so you could be comforted when it gets blustery over the next few days. Gosh, I love blustery. Don't you?! 

If you've been around in the few weeks of the Euna Mae's blog, you've seen and hopefully tried your hand at the mouth-watering boiled chicken and homemade stock. I know some of y'all have because you told me this weekend when you shopped the Euna Mae's kitchenware at the boutique show. (Wasn't that a fun weekend?!) So I'm going to encourage you to make your own, but in a pinch, you can always use your preferred quick method for pulled chicken and use boxed stock.  But if you're like me and you've had the real deal, you'll be so disappointed any time you eat anything short of homemade. You can do it! I know it!

This chicken and dumplins recipe is classic and rich and warm and filling. I'm not teasing family mmmmms the whole time they eat a bowl of this goodness. It's a favorite of ours. And I love making it.  I love every step of the process. It's therapeutic and makes me really feel a heart-connection to days-gone-by. With the weather turning colder across more than half of the country, chicken and dumplins is perfect to serve on these early dark nights when the wind is stirring the leaves out the window and you're in sock-feet.  Enjoy! 

serves about 6

1 cup yellow onion, chopped
1 cup fresh carrots, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
3 Tbs butter + 2 Tbs butter
1/4 cup flour 

2 32oz cartons of chicken stock*
4 cups of shredded cooked chicken
several fresh thyme sprigs
-for the dumplins-
2 cups all-purpose flour plus a little more for sprinkling
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup of shortening like Crisco
1/2 cup cold whole milk

 In a 5.5-7qt heavy-bottomed pot or a Dutch oven, saute onion, carrots, and celery in 3 Tbs butter over low heat until tender. Shake 1/4 cup flour over veggies; cook and stir about 2 minutes to cook out the flour taste. Pour the chicken stock in the pot, stir, and bring to a medium boil.

Meanwhile, to make the dumplins, combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl; whisk together to combine.  Put the 1/3 cup of shortening into the bowl and roll around to cover in flour. Then with your fingers, break apart the shortening into pea-sized pieces, tossing them in the flour and incorporating it well. Your fingers will get gloppy, but just do a little rub-together over the kitchen sink at the end of this step to remove the glops from your hands and fingers. 

Make a well in the middle of the bowl, and add the cold milk to the flour/shortening mixture. Using a spoon (preferably wood), stir together to make a stiff dough. It will be messy looking and not smooth. That's okay. But don't stir the heck out of it. Make sure the dry ingredients get wet, but don't stir it to death.

Lightly flour a board or your counter, and turn the dough out onto the counter. Gather the dough into a ball, and gently knead just about 5-6 times, being careful not to overwork the dough. Lightly flour a rolling pin and roll out the dough to about 1/4" thickness, adding a light dusting of flour to your dough or your pin if you need to. It will be craggly, and that's okay. Using a rolling pizza cutter or a knife that won't cut your counter, cut 1 inch squares or diamonds in the dough. Use a spatula or a bench scraper and scoop up all of the dumplins plus all of the extra flour and stir into the boiling stock. Stir to make sure they don't stick. Add a good pinch of salt and pepper. Cover with a heavy lid, leaving the tiniest crack to help prevent spill-over, and boil gently over medium heat for 8-9 minutes.  Carefully open the lid and stir in the pulled chicken, and allow to simmer on low for another 8-10 minutes or until desired thickness. Add fresh thyme leaves if you choose. Salt and pepper to taste. We like a lot of black pepper on top of ours!

Add a little more stock if you like it soupier. Add more salt and pepper or even celery powder. Use more or less chicken if you'd like. Good cooks use their instincts and a tasting spoon as they go!