Whelp, Thanksgiving is right around the corner and you may as well start thinkin’ about that menu! Dumplings…..yep, those awesome little bits of broth-laden dough just like Grandma makes. Well, guess what….you can make them too. And I can show you how. So come along with The Big Chicken Blog. The dumpling recipe courtesy of my late Mother In Law, Helen Jones.
Mrs Jones’ Dumplings
1 glass of water (8oz)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soda
Measure salt and soda into a bowl. Add water and stir. Then add enough flour to make a dough similar to biscuit dough. Taking about a fourth of this mixture at a time, work in enough flour until the dough is not too sticky, and then roll out on a generously floured surface (I use the waxy side of freezer paper). The thickness should be about like piecrust and maybe a little thinner. Cut into 2-inch strips, then cut in whatever lengths you like maybe 3 inches. When you drop them into the boiling broth they will puff up so you don’t want to end up with too thick of a dumpling, at least I don’t like them so thick.
Now you are ready to cook the dumplings. Heat the chicken broth to a low boil and begin dropping the dumplings into the broth. Take a large spoon and gently immerse them into the broth. Add black pepper to taste. Continue adding strips until all dumplings are in the broth and the mixture is bubbling. You can stir to be sure they are not sticking on the bottom but stir very gently. I suggest you use a heavy gauge pot so the dumplings will not stick or scorch too easily. Then reduce the heat and cover and cook about 45 minutes or until done. When dumplings are almost done add some boiled chicken and stir carefully. This will give the dumplings a great taste. I don’t add until the end since I don’t like the chicken to get stringy. If the mixture is becoming too thick you can thin out by adding a little water, more broth or milk. The dumplings are best served right when they get done. After you turn off the heat and let them sit they will begin to thicken up. Again you can thin the juice by using the above method. Very important, you don’t want to let them sit out too long after turning them off. As soon as they have cooled get them in the fridge if you intend to keep them. They can actually spoil very quickly if the day is extremely warm.
Cooking the ole sister Hen for the broth………………..
Purchase a chicken, which is now probably called a roasting chicken. They can be found frozen or sometimes fresh. Wash thoroughly and check for any pin feathers……. little black spots mostly found on the back in the skin. Get these out however you can, cutting or forcing with the round tip of a knife. I cut off the wing tips and the tail, last part over the fence. Look inside to see what needs to be cleaned out and then give another wash all over. Place in a very large pot and cover with water. Add salt and pepper, 2 onions, several stalks of celery, a couple of carrots and a few bay leaves if you have them. Boil until the meat is tender. Turn off heat and carefully remove the chicken to a large cookie sheet to cool. Strain the broth and discard all the veggies. After chicken is cooled enough to handle debone and discard all the bones and skin.
A chicken fryer can be used, as well as boneless skinless chicken breast or chicken tenderloins. The only downside to all this convenience is taste. The best taste for dumplings in my opinion is the use of a hen/chicken roaster. The absolute best is if you can find someone who raises his or her own hens out in the yard. Incredible taste. Or you may spring for an organic roaster chicken, again if it can be found. The taste is unmatched!! Some people strain off the fat. I don’t. I just let all that good chicken fat stay right where it belongs!! Just keep in mind if you use a roaster/hen it may take 3-5 hours to boil until tender.
When there’s flour all over your kitchen just laugh and wonder how I made my dumplings in a black apron and managed to stay clean. Miracles happen!