12/8/10

Chicken 'n Dumplings

I love Chicken and Dumplings. Not everyone does. I understand that the idea of boiled dough is just gross to some people. But, not me. A good chicken stew with dumplings dropped in and cooked until they're firm...there's nothing like it.

Chicken and Dumplings was something that my Grandmother made. She made them like a side dish, not a main course. She'd serve them with her Turkey dinner at Tgiving and Cmas. She'd serve them with a roast. She'd serve them just because she knew I was coming.

And, so many times I got to stand in her kitchen and watch her make up those dumplings, using flour she scooped out of a large can that would have held a 25 pound bag easily and was painted light robin's egg blue and lived in the cabinet under her sink (in most houses this is a gross dark damp place, but not at her house). It wasn't just a canister. It was practically a barrel.

She'd measure out the ingredients into her sifter and sift everything into a bowl and add the milk and stir it up. Then, she'd drop them out onto the counter on one of those old Tupperware rolling mats...you Americans know the one; with red circles on it that marked the dimensions of an 8" and a 9" pie plate. She didn't use a rolling pin. She'd use a thin glass drinking glass and she'd keep her fingers inside the glass so that she didn't press too hard and crack it. She'd roll those dumplings out paper thin and then use a knife to slice them into little squares. Then, she'd drop each one into the center of that boiling chicken stew, where they'd sink until they were done and then float to the top. And, she was always careful to make sure the new ones dropped under the ones that were already cooked so that we didn't end up with a chewy dumpling.

At Cmas, all the family would gather at my grandparent's house. They raised 8 children and all but one of them came home every year with all their offspring, making a house full of warmth and comraderie. There would be a feast and the good silver and good dishes and the leaves for the old dining table would come out. And, there would be so much laughter and joy and food.

One year at Cmas, I ate so many dumplings and ran around so much playing with my cousins that I threw up in the back yard. Not a nice story to tell, but probably one that every kid went through at some point of overindulgence.

I can remember when I was a teen that my Mom made chicken and dumplings. But, she made it for the main course, and I thought that was just so wrong that if I'm not mistaken, I refused to eat dinner that night. What a little prig I was.

Anyway, I tried many times to make them before I finally learned the secret of dropping them into the center and making sure they sink. And, I can remember once, when I was taking care of a friend that was ill and dying and his family had come to visit one Sunday, I had made a huge pot of dumplings in a delicious stew and they all stayed for supper. They were hispanic and had never had anything like chicken and dumplings before and they dug in and ate all I had. There were so many people that we used all the bowls I owned and people were sat all around, on the floor, in the living room. Everywhere. I don't know how that pot of dumplings fed so many. It's like the story of the loaves and fishes. It just kept stretching and going further and further. And, everyone laughed and ate and visited. It was one of Joel's last good evenings with his family.

And, that's how something as simple as boiled dough, otherwise known as Chicken and Dumplings, became part of my history. And, now you know. I still make them when I can, but I'm the only one at my house that will eat them, so I make a pot and eat from them all week for lunch. Mmmm. Dumplings and a big pot of butterbeans and some chili sauce to spice it up.

Hope you're having a great Way Back Wednesday!

Lane

10 comments:

Elaine Adair said...

I enjoyed your story - I made chicken last night but didn't have enough broth for the dumplings that I also LOVE, so added noodles.

And it is only ME who loves them, so I consume them all - very piggy me!

I've just started reading your blog and look forward to reviewing your past posts. It's always nice to hear a male approach to this passion.

Michelle said...

I grew up with home made chicken and noodles, but there were so many kids (7) that mom always made mashed potatoes, and we spooned the ch & Noodles over the mashed potatoes to make it go farther. That is the only way I know how to eat it! Also my favorite!

Becky said...

Us mountain folk do the chicken and dumplins as a main meal. My husband's favorite dinner is chicken and dumplins, sweet potatoes, and green beans. Quick dumplins are made with Bisquick and are light and fluffy when done. Yours sound equally delightful and I'm sure I'd make a pig of myself with a potful!!!

Elizabeth said...

This post is making me hungry! We do chicken and dumplings as a main dish too, only it is a bit different. The stew has onions and carrots and celery and potatoes and meat -- beef or chicken. Then I just use the Bisquick biscuit recipe and drop the dough by the tablespoonful into the stew. It makes about 10 dumplings and they sit on top of the stew; you simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on and then 10 minutes with the lid off and you have a nice fluffy biscuit-like dumpling on top of your stew. So good!

xo -El

Lee Ann said...

You have made me crave homemade chicken and dumplings. I'm going to dig up a recipe and make some soon! Thank you for you Way Back Wednesday memories. They are enjoyable to read. :-)

lw said...

Our family calls them "noodles" and they are made similar to your grandmother's. You put in a cup of flour per each egg (1 egg for every two servings) with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 eggshell full of water per every egg. They're rolled out very thin on butcher block or a tea towel and allowed to dry before being cut into 1-2" squares and dropped one by one into the hot chicken broth. My favorite noodle memories: Aunt Rosie sneaking my Dad a bowl when he was at a seventh day adventist hospital (they're vegan) recovering from a heart attack. My other favorite was cooking up a huge batch along with a turkey when a friend was moving in a few blocks away. At lunch time, the movers came in for lunch and polished off everything I had-- a roast turkey, the chicken "noodles," yams, green beans, rolls. They came, they scarfed down the food and they left to finish moving, with the bowls and plates still ratting on the tables as they went...

Piece by Piece said...

My Mother used to make Chicken and Dumplings when I was a child. Not my favourite, but I could really use a plate full of chicken and dumplings right now to warm me up. It's cold and we have snow, well! do we have snow, It's as high as an elephant's eye.
Patricia

Anonymous said...

My grandmother would make chicken and homemade noodles that we put over mashed potatoes. My mom would make little dumplings to put in her bean and ham soup. And I can't make either one. Now I'm hungry for the good things from my past. Thanks for the memories.
cindy

andsewon said...

My Mama made them same way, as do I but now I add onions, carrot and celery to my chicken pot using big breast piece with bone instead of the old hen...;-). Was just thinking with our horrid cold here we may need a pot this weekend!
Oh yes for us was main course. I love them even better day after too!!

Anonymous said...

Hi! Just read your blog thru from the beginning...Love it!!

My Mom used to quilt and I'd help her some. But my talents, so far, run to only reading quilt books and blogs and thinking about trying it myself. I've sewed garments, doll clothes, crocheted and crafted for years...altho it's been awhile since I've made anything.

We love chicken and dumplins, I make them out of flour tortillas cut in strips and then cross ways...about 1" x 2". They're nice and light and never gummy. Just don't overcook, as they'll come apart and stick together. Lol, still be tasty, but unsightly.

Thx for the great writing. I love peering in on your life, very interesting!

~ PattiLynn in Tx