– Tender Homemade Dumplings for Chicken and Dumplings –
A few weeks ago, while tending to a speaking engagement at BlogHer Food in Atlanta, I had plans to catch dinner at Mary Mac’s Tea Room with a handful of my favoritest, most beloved blogging buddies. Due to flight scheduling issues, I ended up missing dinner – and I was seriously bummed, because a last year I’d picked up a copy of the Mary Mac’s Tea Room Cookbook and had been in love their their menu offerings ever since.
As luck would have it, I got stuck in Atlanta for an extra day. While at the time it seemed like an unlucky turn of events, the random Sunday spent wandering Atlanta was one of the most relaxing days I’d had in quite a while. The weather was perfect: 80 degrees, 80% humidity, with a light cloud cover that gently shielded me from the pounding rays of the Georgia sun. I smelled roses, drank iced coffee on the veranda of a tiny independent coffee shop, shopped around the indie boutiques in Little Five Points, and on the way back to the hotel, finally stopped into Mary Mac’s.
Being ravenous from my long day of adventuring, I had a hard time decided from the offerings on the menu; and in the end, I pretty much ordered one of everything that looked good. Fried green tomatoes, collard greens, pot likker, fried chicken livers, black eyed peas, sweet potato souffle, and cheese grits. Oh, and of course I ordered chicken n’ dumplings.
You see, I’d been craving a big, steamy bowl of homemade dumplings for chicken and dumplings. An old friend of mine was born and raised in Georgia, and when we were kids, her mother made a huge pot of their family’s famous southern chicken n’ dumplings recipe every week. I remember the tender, melt-in-your-mouth dumplings, simmered for hours in a silky soup, rich with flour and butter. Those were the nights you’d drift off to a deep, satisfied sleep, settling into a dream state long before your head hit the pillow (often while still sitting at the dining room table).
After inhaling Mary Mac’s chicken and dumplings, a decidedly simple affair with no added veggies or herbs, I ordered a second bowl to go so that I could enjoy it back in the hotel room later that night. Yes, even after gorging myself on a ton of southern food, there was no way I was going to miss my chance for a second serving of this little bowl of comfort.
Below you’ll find my version of southern chicken n’ dumplings, stacked with copious amounts of veg and a little thyme to usher in a gently sweet, herbal note. This dish is meant to be shared and enjoyed, so invite your brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and neighbors over, bake up a huge batch of fresh cornbread, and become the most popular person in your family for at least one night.
This is one of those dishes that’s just as good – if not better – the next day. I recommend you make twice as much as you need, and enjoy it for lunch for the next few days.
- 4 pounds of chicken thighs, (I prefer thighs, but you can mix it up)
- 4 whole carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2″ rounds
- 4 whole celery stalks, cut into 1/2″ slices
- 2 tablespoons minced shallot
- 8 cups water
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1 tablespoon warm water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
- 1 teaspoon butter, melted
- 1 1/3 cup flour, divided, plus more for dusting
- 1 whole bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- More salt and pepper, to taste
- Freshly chopped parsley, for garnish
- Place the chicken, carrots, celery, and shallots in a large pot and cover with 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 1 hour.
- While the stock is cooking, whisk egg, 1 tablespoon warm water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and melted butter in a bowl. Slowly add 1 cup of flour, mixing until you've got a solid dough. Roll the dough out into a thick log and chill, wrapped in parchment, for 30 minutes.
- Unwrap the chilled dough and set it on a lightly floured surface. Knead a few times and roll into a 1/4-inch thick roll, then slice into 1-inch segments. If your dumplings are too thick, they won’t cook through – so make sure they’re no more than 1/4-inch thick. Dust gently with more flour to give them a good coating.
- After the stock has cooked for 1 hour, remove the chicken from the pot and shred into thick chunks with two forks. Add chicken back to stock.
- Bring the stock to a boil over medium-high heat and add bay leaf, thyme, pepper, and remaining 1 teaspoon of salt. In a cup, combine the remaining 1/3 cup of flour with a few tablespoons of water, and mix with a fork until all flour is dissolved. Slowly pour the flour slurry into the stock, stirring constantly while adding.
- Gently drop the dumplings into the liquid, one at a time. Stir after adding every few dumplings to prevent them from sticking together. When all of the dumplings have been added, reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes. Stir every few minutes to keep the bottom from sticking and burning, which it will do if you’re not careful.
- Just before serving, stir in the heavy cream. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls and top with chopped parsley for garnish.
This content was originally posted on FearlessFresh.com.