Chicken and Dumplings
Recipe Source: Old Timey Recipes, copyright 1969
Like the Mountaineer Hash recipe we shared recently, here’s another one from Old Timey Recipes. It’s every bit as hearty and delicious!
About the Dish
Few dishes are as synonymous with Southern cooking as chicken and dumplings, so it might surprise you to learn that variations of chicken and dumplings originated in Germany centuries earlier.
German immigrants began arriving in the U.S. in the 1820s, bringing along dumpling (Knoedel) recipes made with spaetzel. The first American cookbook featuring a meat and dumpling recipe, Mary Randolph’s The Virginia Housewife, was published in 1836. The dish gained popularity following the Civil War and Great Depression thanks to its inexpensive staple ingredients and ability to feed large families. The South can lay claim to this recipe!
As far as I’m concerned, you’d hardly confuse this dish with German Knoedel. Chicken and dumplings are as Southern as me!
Stew chicken; when tender, pick the meat from the bones. Put meat in a large pan with a tight fitting lid and add 4 cups of broth. Bring to a boil. (Note: the broth should be the broth from the water you cooked the chicken.)
- 1 ½ cups flour
- 3 tsp baking powder
- ¾ tsp salt
- 1 ½ tablespoons shortening
- ¾ cups of milk
How I Cooked It
Chicken and dumplings is one of those meals that reminds me of family, home, being sick, and being cared for. It fills you up and warms you up when you eat it. It’s comfort food, plain and simple.
I was amazed by how good it was and couldn’t believe I had actually cooked something so wonderful. This is your grandma’s chicken and dumplings!
There are two things I love most about this recipe. First, it’s all made from scratch, right down to the broth. Second, the soup undergoes a magical transformation when you lift the lid to check on the cooked dumplings and the resulting gravy created from the broth.
Everyone has their own version of chicken and dumplings, complete with tips, tricks, and shortcuts. People will use pre-made stock, canned biscuits, or biscuit mix. I have never been a fan of pre-made biscuits. Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman, has a version of chicken and dumplings that uses cornmeal. It creates a dumpling that is more like cornbread than biscuit. It is simply delicious and my favorite chicken and dumplings recipe…next to this one.
Chicken and dumplings can be as simple or as fancy as you like. But to truly make this dish you need to start simple, with water and a chicken.
- 1 whole chicken
- Bay leaf
- 2 carrots
- 2 celery stalks
- Salt and pepper
- Salt and pepper chicken under the skin. Place chicken in a large pot or dutch oven and add enough water so the chicken is nearly submerged. I usually season my water with a bay leaf and a couple sprigs of fresh thyme.
- Bring the water to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cover with a lid. If water starts steaming from under the lid, turn the heat down.
- Cook until meat is tender and falling off the bone, about one hour.
- When meat is cooked, remove chicken. You’ll probably need to let it cool before pulling the meat from the bone. You can try using a fork, but I usually still find it necessary to use my fingers and end up burning myself.
- Strain the broth through a cheesecloth to remove any herb, stems, and bone.
- Chop the carrots and celery and cook in butter in the dutch oven until tender.
- Return broth and chicken to the pot and bring to a boil.
While waiting for the pot to boil, make the dumpling dough.
- 1 ½ cups flour
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 ½ tbsp shortening
- ½ cup of milk
- Mix dry ingredients and cut in shortening with a fork. Pour milk around the flour mixture. Stir as little as possible until the dough is completely incorporated. Dough should be moist and sticky.
- Add the dough one teaspoon at a time to the boiling broth. Dip the spoon in the water so the dough slides off. I did have to use a fork to encourage the dough to start sliding.
- Once all the dough has been added, put the lid on the pot. Set your time for 15 minutes and don’t even look at it until the timer goes off.
- When ready, turn off the heat and remove the lid. You will have a steaming creamy delicious pot of chicken and dumplings!