Chicken and Dumplings

Yep, it’s summer, and I don’t cook or eat a lot of soups and stews during the summer.  However, I made an exception tonight since I made roast chicken a few nights ago and had plenty of chicken left-overs.  In fact, I still have plenty of left-overs in the freezer, but I kept this out because I knew it would be a fairly easy meal and would save me from having to buy more meat for this week.  😀

A fun fact about dumplings is that they are attributed “to being a French Canadian meal that originated during the Great Depression,” according to Wikipedia.  To me, this makes perfect sense because the basic ingredients for dumplins are flour, water, chicken broth, and chicken.  It’s a very cheap meal, all things considered, especially if you do what I did by buying a whole chicken, roasting it for one meal, and using the left-overs for the dumplins.  There are plenty of other cheap ways of making this.  I have bought chicken thighs on sale and used them for the meal.  This is a chicken dish that does not require expensive breasts or other parts.  My step-mom used to buy a whole chicken also, boil it, de-bone it, use what she needed for the dumplins, and save the rest for other dishes, such as Mexican chicken, chicken pot pie, and so on.

Now there are also several ways to make the actual dumplings for the dish.  My step-mom’s recipe is very similar to her pie crust recipe, using shortening, flour, water/broth, and such.  I have used this recipe before, and it works fine.  However, it takes longer and uses more ingredients.  When my Grandma C. told the way she made them, I decided that was the way for me.  It requires two ingredients:  flour and broth.  Trust me, you can’t get any simpler, and it tastes just fine.  It does make a stickier dough, though, and I have found that it works better to roll it out on parchment paper, a large paper sack, or some kind of dough cloth. (My step-mom always used an old pillow case that she kept rolled up in a mason jar.  I have used a dish towel before.)  And now that I have bored you with all my talk of dumplin-lore, I will go ahead and give you the recipe, such as it is.

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Ingredients:

  • 2-3 thighs chicken
  • 3-4 cups water for boiling the chicken
  • 2-3 cups flour
  • salt, pepper, and other seasonings to taste
  • canned broth, if needed
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup cold water

Directions:

  1. In a medium-large cooking pot with a lid, place the chicken thighs and 3-4 cups of water.  Cook on high to bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, cover with a lid, and cook until the chicken is cooked through (at least 30 minutes, probably longer if in-bone).
  2. Remove pot from heat.
  3. Remove chicken from broth.  Set aside to cool.
  4. In a medium mixing bowl, combine one cup of broth from the cooking pot and 2 cups of flour.  Mix well.  If the dough is really sticky, add more a little at a time, up to about 3 cups. (You will most certainly have to add more.)
  5. Roll dough out thin on parchment paper dusted very lightly with flour.  Cut into strips, squares, or use a small biscuit cutter to make circular dumplings.  (I like the biscuit cutter, and I imagine that kids would love it, too.  The circles can overlap.  You’re going to use all the in-between peices, too.)
  6. Bring broth back to a boil.  Drop dumplings in one at a time, stirring every so often to keep them from sticking together.  Cover, and reduce heat to low-medium.  Let cook for 45-60 minutes.  (If you do not have enough broth, supplement it with water and/or canned broth.  I like to use Swanson; it’s a bit more expensive, but it tastes better.)
  7. De-bone chicken (shred if boneless).  Add to broth and dumplings during the last 5-10 minutes of simmering.
  8. Season to taste.
  9. If the broth has not thickened by the time you add the chicken, mix cornstarch and water in a small cup, and add to dumplins, stirring constantly.  Bring the dumplins back to a boil, and let it boil for about a minute, stirring frequently, being especially careful to not let the dumplings stick to the pan.
  10. Remove from heat and serve with fresh rolls, biscuits, or cornbread.

Dumplings cut with a biscuit cutter. Such fun!

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