Sometimes I have thought about what to open that night before 8am...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Nanny's Chicken and Dumplings

My family is from The South.  Texas, to be exact.  People from Texas have very strong feelings about being from Texas (Go 'Horns!).  My Great-Grandmother was no exception.  Nanny was  a terrific cook, flirt, and oh could that woman pose when a camera was pointed at her!  You think I am kidding, but I tell you there is not one candid photo of Nanny in all of creation.  And this was before there were digital cameras and you could just delete the ones you didn't like.

A few facts about Nanny:

She was born in 1899.

Her Daddy was Post Master General in Mt. Pleasant, Louu-zee-anna.

She was one of 8 children.

The mare that pulled their carriage when she was a child was named Dolly.

She viewed bacon as an actual food group.

She was a Yellow Dog Democrat. (She would sooner vote for a yellow dog than a republican)

She taught me to make this when I was small enough to stand on a chair next to her at the counter.

I have modified the recipe slightly over the years to make it healthier.  If you want the original, pain in the behind, cut an entire chicken into pieces by yourself recipe, leave me a comment and I will send it to you!

Nanny's Chicken and Dumplings
(as made by Karen Ray)

2-3 lbs chicken breasts cut into 2 inch pieces
2-3 cups chicken broth (low sodium)
2-3 cups water
1 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1 rib celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
½ bay leaf
3 tbsp. Flour mixed to a paste with water

1 ½ cups flour
2 tsp. Baking powder
¾ tsp. Salt
3 tbsp. Shortening
¾ cup milk

Place chicken pieces in heavy saucepan and just cover with equal parts chicken broth and water. Add salt, pepper, celery, onion, carrot, and bay leaf. Cover and bring to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer gently for 30 minutes.
 Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Cut in the shortening until mixture resembles coarse meal. Mixing with a fork, add enough milk to make dough hold together. Drop spoonfuls of dough from a wet tablespoon, letting dumplings rest on top of meat and broth. Cover tightly and simmer for an additional 15 minutes, not raising lid from pan.

Just a quick interlude:  How cute is the Chef du Cuisine?!

 To thicken broth, transfer dumplings to a warm plate and add flour paste to broth in pot. Stir constantly until thickened. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve in soup bowls with dumplings floating on top.
 This is comfort food at it's finest.
I hope you like it!
And as always, I have a few important notes.
1.  You notice that the amounts are not firm on the chicken broth water ratio.  The main thing is that it just covers your chicken.  I have found that a nice wide skillet works best for this recipe... because it gives you more room for dumplings!
2.  I switched to part chicken broth when I switched to chicken breasts.  I found it needed it in order to pump up the flavor when I wasn't using a whole chicken.  It is important not to use all chicken broth, or the full sodium chicken broth, because that is how you are steaming your dumplings.  The first thing they absorb is the salt, and trust me, nothing is more disappointing than an overly salty dumpling!

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