Jamie LOVES Chicken and Dumplings, probably more than he loves me. Just kidding-- that kid is crazy about me! When we were talking about Easter dinner I gave him all kinds of options for dinner: traditional ham, pecan encrusted pork chops, pot roast, but as soon as I mentioned chicken and dumplings it was like there was no other option that could possibly beat out chicken and dumplings. I've only made this once before five years ago....
We had just moved to the DC area and we made good friends with a couple that lived in our apartment complex, Jon and Megan. They were moving into their apartment the same time we were. That move was honestly the worst move of my life-- I was so sick, it was hot outside and we basically picked up our lives and moved to the big city carrying all of our hopes and dreams. Luckily that day there was a group of Mormon missionaries helping Jon and Megan move in and they kindly helped us move some of the bigger/heavier objects up 3 flights of stairs. One of the missionaries was eager to get to know us and to share his gospel with us. He was a recent convert to the religion and his mission was the first time that he was away from home for an extended period making him terribly homesick. He mentioned to us that he especially missed his mom's chicken and dumplings. A few weeks after he gave us a copy of the Book of Mormon he called me asking me if we'd considered it for our lives. I politely reiterated that while we respected his faith that we weren't interested and then things got a little crazy. It's been five years so I honestly don't remember what he said to me, but what I do remember was that when I hung up the phone I was pretty upset. How dare he say whatever he said to me at the time that was so completely inappropriate? I remember making a conscious decision to kill him with kindness. The southern belle thing to do was to call him back and invite him over to dinner and mention that I was making none other than chicken and dumplings from scratch.
Invitation sent, I called Jamie's grandmother for her recipe. ( I am so angry at myself because I have no idea where I wrote down that recipe. It's been so long and I can only remember bits and pieces. Since Norma Jean passed away almost four years ago, I can't call her up and ask her and that makes me sadder than anything else.) Back to the story. I made chicken and dumplings the full out version-- I boiled a chicken and deboned it, dropped the dumplings and it was by all accounts amazing. The missionaries come over (unfortunately Jon and Megan weren't in town) and we're eating and having pleasant conversation. The homesick missionary was in heaven! He was scarfing it down as fast as he could get it in his mouth. Halfway through the meal, he excuses himself to head to the restroom. We continue eating until we hear him coughing violently in our guest bathroom. This goes on for a few minutes. Jamie and I are looking at each other concerned while the missionary's partner continues to eat the entire time. His partner's coughing did not stop him from finishing his meal. The over critical southern woman in me was concerned that maybe my dumplings weren't that great. A few more minutes pass and he comes out of the bathroom asking for a glass of water. He decides that he wants to go home and lie down. So I pack him some leftovers for when he feels up to it and they leave.
We don't even think twice about the strange occurrence of events until the next day when Jon calls us and tells us that after the missionaries left our house the choking missionary ended up going to the hospital! Apparently he had an abnormally small esophagus and he somehow lodged a entire chunk of chicken in his throat. It was so absurd that we couldn't help but laugh so hard! I swear my campaign to kill him with kindness had nothing to do with actually trying to kill the kid! Needless to say, we never saw him again. And that, my friends, is how I almost killed a mormon missionary.
So now back to the cooking! This version of chicken in dumplings is a 'cheat' version. I used a rotisserie chicken instead of boiling one and I used Bisquick for my dumplings even though less than a week ago I proclaimed that I would never use Bisquick again. Norma Jean used Bisquick and if it was good enough for her it's good enough for me (for dumplings but never pancakes).
1 rotisserie chicken
1 32 oz container of chicken broth
6 cups of water
3 stalks of celery
1/2 of large onion
4 cups Bisquick mix
1 1/3 cups milk
What you do:
- Chop the celery, carrots and onions in large pieces. I do this so that people can pick out what they don't want to eat. Our grandmothers were depression era you never, ever throw perfectly good vegetables away.
- Add vegetables to a large stock pot and add the container of chicken broth, bringing to a nice simmer.
- While the vegetables are simmering, debone your chicken and add it to the stock pot along with the water, season salt and pepper. Let all of this simmer for about an hour. The rotisserie chicken really allows you to add less seasoning than you would have to add with a plain chicken. I even threw the skin in the pot. After the hour was up, I used a slotted spoon and removed most of the skin and some of the fat that floated to the top of the pot.
|Make sure you get all the bones-- you wouldn't want anyone to choke...|
- Mix the Bisquick and milk in a large mixing bowl. I doubled the dumpling recipe from the side of the box because let's be honest the dumpling is the best part of this dish.
- Before you add the dumplings make sure the stock is seasoned how you like it. There's no turning back after you add the dumplings!
- Bring the stock to a boil and add the dumpling by the spoonful. Let cook uncovered for 10 minutes and then cover and cook for another 10 minutes.
I must have read a dozen different versions of how to make "authentic southern" chicken and dumplings and what I decided ultimately is that however your grandmother made chicken in dumplings is the right way for you. Some people throw out the vegetables after boiling the chicken stock, some people use canned biscuits for their dumplings while others painstakingly roll out beautiful strips of dough. Some people serve chicken and dumplings over mashed potatoes. My crazy husband eats it over white rice. This recipe (minus the rotisserie chicken) is they way that 3 out of 4 grandmothers (we don't know how the 4th made them) made chicken and dumplings. They lived in different parts of the state but the results are exactly the same and that is what makes them perfect for Jamie and I. If your grandmother is still around making chicken and dumplings, give her a call and send yourself an email with the recipe so you don't lose it like I did.
|Chicken and Dumplings + Sweet Tea. Classic Sunday Dinner|