Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Quick and Easy Chicken and Dumplings

Nothing says Southern cooking more than chicken and dumplings. It's a perfect meal for one of those "I need comfort food" nights.

"Back in the day" as the saying is, it was a big production to make chicken and dumplings--between boiling the chicken, removing the skin and bones, rolling out the dumplings and everything that goes along with that, there wasn't much point in tackling it unless you made a huge pot full.

Unfortunately for me, my husband doesn't care for chicken and dumplings. Can you even imagine such a thing?? (He says it a good waste of chicken and biscuits!) My theory is that he was force fed chicken dumplings as a child and it turned him against them. Just a theory, mind you. So in my family, I make a much smaller quantity of chicken and dumplings than most do, and I always have to have an alternative meal for hubby, so I want this to be as quick and easy as possible.




When I was doing a baking day, I pre-cooked some chicken thighs and ended up with two quarts of homemade stock...


...and about 4 cups of cooked, diced chicken to use for future recipes. (I used about half of this for my dumplings)

You can see how I did that on my baking day post. I don't always do the stock and chicken ahead, if I have time I do it all back to back, but having stock and precooked chicken makes it easy to make chicken and dumplings, chicken and rice, even homemade chicken noodle soup, even on a busy day when you don't have much time available.

I had about two quarts of stock, which I needs to come to rolling boil. If you don't have stock available, you can use canned broth, or even make some with chicken stock paste or chicken bullion. While the broth is coming up to heat, start getting the dumplings ready.

I usually make dumplings the same way my mother makes hers, and her sister makes them, and the way my grandmother did before them. You start with just a little bit of flour...and if you thought you were going to get a tutorial on mixing up dough and rolling it out to make dumplings, you're sorry mistaken, because in my family, we make biscuits the old fashioned way...

with "canned" biscuits! You may call them refrigerated biscuits, or tube biscuits, or whatever you like, in my family, we call them canned biscuits. (I heard a comedian one time who called them "wop biscuits"--'cause you had to "wop" them on the edge of the counter to open them up, and that was the sound they made, too--"wop!") But I digress...

I use whatever inexpensive brand I can find--I think I paid $1.23 for 4 tubes of store-brand biscuits here.
Dredge your canned biscuits in just a little bit of flour so they won't be sticky to handle...

...and flatten them out. You can use a rolling pin, but I just pat the out by hand. They don't have to perfect, just semi-flat.


Cut the dough circles up with knife, like so, or you can just tear off little bits of dough as you go. I usually start off cutting, and end up tearing off bits as I go by the end.

While the stock is at a rolling boil, start adding the bits of dough. Sorry, I couldn't take pictures and drop in dumplings at the same time! You can add them a handful at the time at first, but whatever you do, don't just dump them all in at the same time. Drop a few at a time, stirring a little as you go, until they're all dropped in. (For two quarts of broth, I used two tubes of biscuits.)
The dough will puff up and float at first. Add the diced chicken--I used about two cups, you can use more or less, according to how "meaty" you family likes their dumplings.


And now, for the secret ingredient.

Yes, an egg. (For a bigger pot of dumplings I'd probably use more than one. )


Crack the egg(s) into a cup, and beat with a fork.

Bring the pot back to a good bubble, and pour the egg in slowly, stirring slowly. It makes little yellow and white "thingies" in the broth.

I have no idea why we do this in my family, but we do. I do, my mother does, and my grandmother did. I have no idea where it originated, and no one else I have ever talked to about making chicken and dumplings does this. It's the "hallmark" of my family's chicken and dumplings. It's kind of like making egg drop soup. Only not (!)

At this point, cover and bring the heat way down, and simmer for a while, stirring occasionally. The flour from the biscuits will thicken the broth, the dumplings will "unpuff" and stop floating, and it will all be slowly changing from a pot of boiling biscuit puffs, to a pot of yummy, delicious chicken and dumplings. Taste to be sure the dumplings are cooked, add a little salt and pepper if it needs it, and you're ready for dinner!
Note: As you can see from the picture above, these quantities (2 qts of stock, 2 tubes of biscuits, 2 or 3 handfuls-a scant 2 cups-of diced chicken) don't make a huge pot of dumplings--I'd say 4 servings if you're eating a bowlful as a meal, probably 8 if you use this as a side dish. You can easliy double or even triple, if you have a big enough pot. The trick, no matter the size of the pot, is to keep the stock at a roll while you drop the dumplings, so don't try rush if you double the recipe and drop them too fast, they'll get mushy.


This post is linked to:

Works for Me Wednesday at We Are THAT Family
Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum
Recipe Swap at the Grocery Cart Challenge
Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam
Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace

Until next time, good cooking, and good eating!

13 comments:

  1. That is amazing and I bet you are exactly right about your husband's dislike. THat's the root of so many picky eaters, including my hubs, who can't stand the sight of lima beans following a horrible "eat it or you won't leave the table" experience that ended with the contents of his stomach on his dad's shoes...

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  2. Have to admit, I never made chicken and dumplings. I bet it would be good way to use up the leftover Thanksgiving turkey. Have to give it a try!

    Jane

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  3. Yes, this is good with leftover turkey--especially if you boil the carcass for at least part of your stock. we're going out of town so I won't be cooking the turkey this year-although I've been thinking about buying one cooking it anyway just for us!

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  4. We love to eat and chicken and dumplings is a favorite. This looks amazing! Thanks for sharing! Come see my Norwegian Fruit Bread recipe...perfect for the holidays! Happy Food Friday!

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  5. How could he not love this down home goodness. I love the clarity of your stock. That looks like it came straight out of a test kitchen. I really liked your tutorial and your recipe sounds delicious.

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  6. GREAT!!! recipe and I love your chicken stock. Homemade Chicken and Dumplings are a family favorite. THANKS!!! for the recipe.
    Geri

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  7. I make a VERY old-fashioned recipe when I make my dumplings. It's very easy, but it's funny. The measurement used in the "recipe" is a "hand scoop." I love it! It's one of those recipes I keep in my head and will never forget. You have to admit - you won't find a recipe calling for a "hand scoop" in very many cookbooks! :)

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  8. I've never made chicken and dumplings before and my mom never made them either. I remember having them at a friends house when I was teeny tiny and the dumplings were not cooked. :(

    You might have convinced me to try my hand at making them though!

    Looks yummy! :)

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  9. This is a wonderful recipe. Who knew that you could make dumplings out of biscuits. Well, you did. And good thing too. Now we all know.
    Fantastic. I can't wait to try this!
    Thanks!
    Yvonne

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  10. What a great idea to use canned biscuits! It looks yummy!
    Hey! You have an award waiting for you over at my blog!
    ~Liz

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  11. I like all of these suggestions, the canned biscuits and the egg, all great ideas for a yummy soup!

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  12. I think I know where the egg thing came from, because my family does something similiar, it's an old timey way to add protein and stretch the meat out. One of my grama's had small children during the depression and adding eggs or beans to a little meat was how she was able to keep them all fed.

    I like the canned biscuit idea, am going to have to try that myself :)

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