Most-Requested Item on the Menu: Chicken Dumplings
It is a fact that large families have lots of birthdays. September and October have more than their share in our family so we’ve been in birthday mode lately. When one of our three college guys comes home for a weekend or their birthday, they request their favorite meal. Is it steak and potatoes or shrimp and lobster? No, my friends. They want a politically and nutritionally incorrect meal, the ultimate comfort food: Chicken Dumplings.
Not just any dumplings, Mom’s recipe that they have eaten all of their lives. The kind that is NOT served in college cafeterias or health food restaurants. This recipe was originally developed pre-children and has stood the test of time. This Lovely Place has quite a repetoire of cheap and easy meals and Chicken Dumplings are no exception.
The recipe that follows would feed a few people. Alas, I am not familiar with “feeds four” recipes so I’m not sure how many people. All I know is that I triple the recipe if it’s just 8 of us at home, quadruple it if a few grown children are home, and quintuple it if they bring friends. A really big stock pot is necessary when it’s time to pull out the big guns. In fact, that pot cooks dumplings for 30 when I take a meal to the local faith-based student center on our university campus.
I can get two batches of Chicken Dumplings out of a 3-pound bag of frozen chicken breasts. My favorite way to cook the breasts is in a crock pot on high for a few hours, with 2 cups of broth or boullion-flavored water. Use 2 forks to chop up the meat and you have chicken and broth for Chicken Taco Soup, Chicken Tacos, Chicken Noodles or Chicken Dumplings.
Cooking things like dumplings or soup is an inexact science, so pardon the vague references:
A few chicken breasts (I like white meat!), cooked and chopped
Between 1/2 to 2/3 pan full of chicken broth (I usually add bouillon powder, salt and pepper to taste)
Bring to a boil.
3 T. shortening
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 c. milk
and the secret ingredient: 1 tsp. celery seed
Cut shortening into flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in milk. Drop dough by spoonfuls into boiling broth and chicken. If you dip the spoon down into the broth, the dough rolls off easily. Mixture thickens as it cooks, don’t let it scorch. Cook uncovered about 7 minutes for lightness and about 7 minutes covered to cook them through. Test a dumpling by cutting it and chewing. If it looks like bread and tastes light, it’s done. If it looks and tastes dough-y, cook longer. If you cook them too long, the dumplings will dissolve and disappear.
Add some cornbread or biscuits, a nice tablecloth and candlelight, and you have the makings of a homey family meal. This is a perfect meal for a cold, rainy day! A hot homemade meal and a pretty table go a long ways toward building memories and keeping your family’s hearts at home.