Wish Upon A Dish: Chicken and Dumplings - Southern Style

December 15, 2011

Chicken and Dumplings - Southern Style

I am cheating this week and my gnocchi, or dumpling, is a traditional American dumpling.

I had to do a little web research on Southern-style dumplings, you know, the kind they serve in Cracker Barrel's Chicken 'n Dumplings.

In the north (and probably the west also) we make a drop dumpling (I just can't see a chuck wagon traveling with a rolling pin).

As I understand it in the 'ole South, money was short, families large and good meat was for company.
I imagine most of good southern dishes were actually slave recipes handed down and 'round about.

Usually an old, old, about to die chicken was used after her laying days were over. Slow, long stewing was the best way to handle any fibrous older meat, and since it had to go a long way, different ingredients were needed to stretch the meats.

Flour, rice, greens and potatoes were always part of a meal with creative cooks consistently perfecting those handed down techniques.

Necessity is the mother of invention and dumplings were no exception. At their best, minimal ingredients like flour, animal fat, buttermilk, salt and pepper were the base for many stretchers, which changed little over the years except for the addition of baking powder and soda.

I don't know why I picked this week, of all weeks, to try and make this rolled out biscuit-like noodle dumpling but I imagine it has a lot to do with my 'To Do List of 2011' and "time is running out' or I am a glutton for punishment and it is still a week before Christmas (and yes, I am ahead of schedule).

The other reason is I am craving comfort food this week and had leftover roasted chicken in the fridge (leftover being the great inspiration of most dishes this week).

I finally choose a recipe that included schmaltz, which like in matzo balls gives a bland recipe oomph and a silky texture.

Simple to do, if you have ever made biscuits. Rolled out to 1/4" (or thinner) and using a pizza cutter, cut into diamond shapes, 3/4" x 1" pieces (or as best as you can get them).

makes 4 servings

* 1 cup AP flour + more for rolling
* 1/2 cup whole milk
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 3 tablespoons schmatlz (or lard or butter)

Melt the schmaltz in warmed milk but do not boil. Whisk dry ingredients, pour liquid in the middle and mix with a spoon until it comes together. Scrap onto a well floured board and knead until you can pat it out without it sticking to your fingers. Roll to a mere 1/4" and cut into diamonds.

Now for the stew.....
Chop 1 large carrot, 1 small parsnip and 1 small sweet onion.
I like to tear the cooked leftover chicken into pieces, cutting is just not rustic enough for this dish.

Saute vegetables in olive oil and butter until just softened. Add a chopped clove of garlic and 1/4 cup flour. Stir until all flour in incorporated. Add 2 cups chicken stock, Italian seasonings, Bell's seasoning (about 1/2 teaspoon of each), salt and pepper and simmer until thickened. Add 1 cup milk and when it simmers, drop in the dumplings, a few at a time. They will cook in the liquid and naturally thicken the sauce. If it gets too thick just add more milk. Check for seasonings, I always find I need more salt with a cream-based sauce.

Once the sauce comes back to a boil, drop in the chicken meat and a handful of frozen peas.

Bring back to a boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Serve hot.

I did add some grated Romano cheese because that's what I do with most long cooked dishes to pump up the flavor.

This dumpling stew is very thick and creamy, I certainly understand why most Southern recipes call for using a canned cream of chicken soup, but making a bechamel is just as easy as opening a can and healthier for you. I suggest thickening as much as you would like.

Review: The Nudge said although it was different then what we are used top, it was very good and creamy. Perfect for a cold night. So now I have a Summer Chicken & Dumpling recipe and a Winter Chicken & Dumpling recipe. Neat, huh?

No comments :