Southern-Style Chicken and Dumplings· 3 ½ to 4 lbs of bone-in chicken (your choice: whole, thighs, breasts, drumsticks…just use your favorite)
· 2 quarts water
· 1-2 stalks of celery
· 1 onion, quartered
· 1 ½ teaspoons salt
· 2 cups all-purpose flour
· 2 teaspoons baking powder
· ¾ teaspoon salt
· 1/3 cup of shortening (I use Spectrum non-hydrogenated)
Place your chicken in a large pot (remember to remove the giblets if using a whole chicken). Add the celery, onion, and 1 ½ tsp. salt. Cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a slow simmer and cover. Let it cook for an hour or so…until the bird is falling-off-the-bone tender. Remove the chicken from the broth. Strain the broth to remove the veggies and the bones that have probably removed themselves from the chicken. Discard the bones and veggies; return broth to pot. Measure and set aside 2/3 cup of broth. You will need that to make the dumplings!
Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, “pick” the meat from the bones. Yep, just take your hands and pull the meat off. Place the meat into the pot with the broth. Discard the rest of the bones.
Now it is time to make those dumplings! Combine the flour, baking powder, and ¾ teaspoon salt. Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender. (No pastry blender? Get yourself to the nearest….just kidding. Use a fork.) The mixture should be crumbly. Now here’s THE trick to perfect dumplings: (I can’t believe I’m sharing the secret that allows me to turn up my nose at most people’s dumplings…Yes, it is that important to a southern chick!) Check the temp. of your reserved broth. It needs to be VERY warm to HOT. Put in cool broth and your dumplings will not be melt-in-your-mouth delicious! You have been fairly warned. So add the hot broth to the flour mixture and blend until the dry ingredients are moistened. Do not over-blend. Now turn your dough out onto a LIGHTLY floured surface. Knead lightly for about 30-40 seconds. Now roll out your dough to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut your dough into 1 x 2 inch strips. I use my pizza cutter. This isn’t rocket science so don’t worry if your strips aren’t perfect. See…
Bring your pot of broth and chicken back to a boil. Now as quickly as you can, drop the dumplings into the broth ONE AT A TIME. Cover your pot, reduce the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.
Yield: 4 servings (feel free to double…they are even better reheated!)