Y’all, I am really here. I promise.
It’s been one of those weeks (again) – Big Girl is sick – 100+ fevers for three days now. I’ve been sick. Work is crazy. Life is nuts.
But we’re surviving, we’re hangin’ in there. I’m just remembering my priorities and focusing on those and letting the rest slide. Like cleaning my house. (which is really starting to drive me nuts. I hate dirty floors.)
Tonight I made something that is one of my family’s favorite comfort food dinners. Chicken & Dumplings. It started off as a copycat recipe I found for Cracker Barrel chicken & dumplings, but I’ve slowly made it my own and I thought I would share it with you all here.
It’s so good. It is not a quick recipe to make, though. This one takes me a few hours to do – so plan your time accordingly. It’s one that you can’t really rush. You could, however, do it in stages and just finish the last part off on the day you plan to eat it. Even then, though, you need about an hour for the dumplings to cook properly. Un-done dumplings = not good.
I have chicken thighs/legs written in the recipe, but I will tell you that I’ve made this with whatever chicken I’ve had in my freezer. Thighs, legs, breasts, miscellaneous parts. It all works out. I think the thighs are the best because they seem to have a better flavor and don’t dry out like the breasts do. Also, I use bone-in whenever I can. Then you get the goodness in your broth from the bones and deboning a few thighs is not really a big deal – they usually just fall apart anyway.
I also use whole wheat flour for my dumplings, but you can use whatever you would normally use. I have used white flour before, but I don’t stock that in my pantry anymore, so I make it with whole wheat. The family doesn’t know the difference.
And, one other thing – when you pour the milk into the dumplings, don’t just dump it all in there at once. As I’ve said before, doughs (like breads and dumplings) are humidity sensitive. You may need more or less depending on how humid it is in your house that day. I pour a measuring cup and then just add a little at a time until it is the right consistency.
What is the right consistency? Well, it’s a good, cohesive dough, that is a little bit tacky to the fingers but not super-sticky. If you get too much milk in there, just add a little more flour until you get it right. It’s not rocket science. It’s easy. And once you make your own dumplings you won’t ever want to buy store-bought ones again. They are so good.
So, while we are battling our bugs and surviving the myriad crises, we’ll comfort ourselves with a little bowl of this – and maybe again tomorrow for lunch. It’s even better warmed over.
Please do let me know if you try it – and how you like it. I always wonder if people actually try the recipes I share or if I’m just slowly building an online cookbook for my own reference…
Chicken & Dumplings
2 pounds of chicken thighs/legs (bone in, skin on is fine)
2-3 stalks of celery (with the leaves on the top)
~1/2 – 3/4 cup of carrots, chopped finely
3-4 chicken bouillon cubes
Houston House Seasoning
1 tsp minced garlic
For the Dumplings:
1 – 1 1/2 cups milk
2 cups flour (all purpose)
1 heaping tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
- Fill a large stock pot with water. Add the bouillon, about 1 tsp salt, 2 tsp pepper, and start to bring to a simmer.
- Chop your celery and carrots. Add to water.
- Generously season the chicken with the house seasoning (onion powder, garlic powder, salt & pepper)
- Add chicken to water.
- Bring to a boil and let simmer for 2-3 hours or until chicken is falling off of the bone.
- Remove chicken from broth and debone, discarding the fat, gristle and any skin. Cut into bite-sized pieces and add back to the broth.
- To make the dumplings, put the flour, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl. Gradually add milk until you have a slightly tacky (not sticky) dough.
- Let the dough rest for about 5 minutes. While the dough is resting, bring your broth to a rolling boil.
- Roll out the dumplings. I usually do two batches (half of the dough at one time) and generously flour my counter. I roll them pretty thin and then use a pizza cutter to make dumplings about 1/2 inch wide by about 1 inch long.
- As the broth is boiling, drop the dumplings in. Continue dropping them in, stirring as needed to get them submerged, until all of the dumplings are in the pot.
- Reduce to medium or medium-low heat and let simmer for about an hour. I leave the lid on the pot, but at an angle so that it does not boil over.
Serve with biscuits, saltine crackers or just in a bowl and devour!
Note: If you make this in stages, you could do your chicken, save the broth and deboned chicken and then re-assemble & bring to a boil while you make your dumplings at a later date.
I also have a crock-pot chicken & dumplings recipe you could try if you are not going to be home during the day and want some goodness when you get home.