Chicken and Dumplings
||5 / 10
||12 or more
||30 minutes or so
3 cups - all purpose flour (either white or unbleached white is fine)
1/2 cup - shortening (not oil or butter/margerine)
- (optional seasonings) Chicken Broth or bullion
- Salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste
- additional flour for rolling out the dumplings
1 whole - chicken (or a large pack of chicken legs & thighs)
Clean the chicken and place in a large pot of salted water. Bring the water and the chicken to boil and boil on medium to medium low until the chicken is fork tender and done. Turn off the stove. Save the broth but remove the chicken to a bowl and allow the chicken to cool. Begin cleaning the boiled chicken by removing the skin and picking the meat off of the bones. Break the larger peices of chicken into bite-sized pieces and place the cleaned chicken meat back into the broth. Throw away the skin and bones. Begin bringing the broth back to a boil on medium-low heat. While it is warming up, add additional water to the pot of broth to bring the water level up to 3 or 4 inches from the top of the pot. Begin seasoning the broth to taste: add salt, pepper and just a little bit of garlic powder at a time. Stir and taste and continue adding seasoning until it tastes good to you. You can add chicken broth or bullion at this time if you want. I sometimes make my broth a little on the salty side because it seems like the dumplings soak up some of the salt so the end product doesn't taste salty anymore.
While you are waiting on the broth to come to a full boil you can begin making the dumplings. (This is similar to making biscuits from scratch.) Place 3 cups of flour into a large mixing bowl. Add the shortening and begin cutting it into the flour with either a pastry knife or 2 regular butter knives. After you've gotten the shortening broken up into smaller sizes, use your clean hands to begin working the shortening into the flour better. I do this by grabbing handfuls of the flour/shortening and squeezing it together in my fists then crumbling it back into the bowl. Keep doing this (about 10 minutes) until the flour looks like it's cornmeal.
Add a cup of the broth to the flour mixture and stir it in with a fork to begin making the dough. Continue adding a lttle more broth at a time until the dough begins to separate from the side of the bowl and holds together (no dry looking bits left on the bottom). Using your hands again, reach into the bowl and knead and roll the dough around a few times to make sure you have it all together.
Sprinkle lots of flour out onto your counter and pinch off about a 1/2 cup to a cup size bit of dough and place it on your floured surface. Sprinkle more flour on top of the dough and knead it a few times. The dough should not be sticky at this point. If it is, continue to add more flour and knead it a few additional times. Pat it into a ball shape and begin rolling it out. If you find it is sticking to your rolling pin or surface, sprinkle some more flour on the top of the dough and spread it around with your hands. Try to lift the dough up, sprinkle more flour under it and turn it over. Sprinkle more flour again on the surface and continue rolling. You want the dough to be about 1/4" thin or thinner. It will get thicker as it boils so you don't want it to be too thick when it starts out. After you have the dough rolled out, take a sharp knife and cut long strips of dough, about 1" to 2" wide. Then cut each strip into 3" or 4" lengths. Pick up each piece and place in a pile on a large plate. Repeat until you have all the dough rolled out and cut.
By now the broth should be boiling. Drop the dough (dumplings) into the broth one piece at a time. After all have been added, use a large spoon to gently stir the dumplings. Bring it back to a boil, cover with a lid and boil gently (on low or medium low) for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Watch to make sure that it doesn't boil over; if it does, turn the heat down a little more or set the lid so that it does not completely cover the top (has a little opening so the steam gets out). Take the lid off the pot and boil for another 15 minutes. Finally, turn off the stove and let it sit for another 15 minutes with the lid back on. Stir and serve.
This is a really good dinner for a cold night. If you want more dumplings use 6 cups flour and about 2/3 cup of shortening. If you have left overs, you might notice that the broth gets a little thick. You can just add more water or chicken broth to thin it out again when reheating. The flavor will still be just as good.
Serve with green peas -- some people like to add the peas to their bowl or plate. It just gives it a little extra something.