like most southern food, evolved out of necessity and practicality. Back in the day, chicken was a treat and not something offered or even available on a regular basis. Whenever it was, the chicken was more often than not on the scrawny side.
So you have this woman who has a house full of kids to feed and likely a few guests after word has gotten out that chicken is on the menu, and one scrawny little chicken. This is where flour comes to the rescue yet again! Back in the old days, flour was an affordable staple and bought in twenty five pound sacks. Flour could easily be used to stretch a meager meal so that an entire family would leave the table feeling full and satisfied by making biscuits, dumplings, hoe cake, or an assortment of other improvisational breads and meal stretchers.
This recipe is dedicated to my sister in law’s trainer, Debbie (you owe me Stacey, I just made you sound so hip in that sentence). Debbie’s failed attempts to make dumplings have led her family to formally request that she stop attempting them altogether. Now I’m here to tell you that if Debbie can remain skinny and fit in the land of fried chicken, she can certainly make chicken and dumplings! Stacey has assured her that our family recipe is foolproof and I plan on proving it with this tutorial. I am also going to explain the two instances where Stacey and I managed to screw up this foolproof recipe in our earlier days of cooking so that you can avoid our mistakes and have your perfect pot of dumplings!
Gina, this is for you, too! Gina is a reader who has her hands full with summer heat and two toddlers. When I posted a teaser sentence “Anyone up for chicken and dumplings this week?” at the top of my site, Gina emailed within minutes telling me that she certainly was! Gina, I promise this will be quick and easy enough that you can manage to make it in between calls for “Mama”! After making it once, you won’t even need a recipe!
*I usually stew a whole chicken but today I had boneless skinless breasts and no chicken so this is what we got. Feel free to drop a few chicken bouillon cubes into your water in place of the broth.
Be sure you don’t skip this step! If you do, your dumplings will completely dissolve in the broth. That is exactly what I did the very first time I ever made chicken and dumplings after I had gotten married. Of course it didn’t help that I had bragged all day about how good my mama’s dumplings were! I ended up with a delicious dumpling flavored soup!
Lower your heat so that your broth is just barely barely barely boiling and drop these pieces in one at a time. It is important that you DO NOT STIR. We are not going to stir these as we don’t want our dumplings cooking up. If you do stir, you will basically cause your dumplings to dissolve. Stay tuned, I’m going to show you what we will do instead…
You want to keep it on a low boil.
Drop your chicken into the dumplings and very gently stir that up. I really just push it down a bit like I did with the dumplings but you are past the point of them being able to cook up by this time anyway. Just be gentle.
Oh I wish you could smell these, I wish you could taste these, I wish you had dumplings on your stove right this very minute!