Comfort & Dumplings
|October 1, 2011||Filled under Casserole, Chicken, Main Dish, Soups & Stews|
I can’t remember the first time I enjoyed my Mama’s Chicken & Dumplings. I must have been very young. I do however remember my Mama complaining about her dumplings being runny every time she made them. Despite her dismissal of those fluffy puffs, I was in heaven when this dish was served. I grew up in Southern Virginia where snow falls in reasonable and enjoyable amounts each winter. Those were very special days. At the end of a snow covered gravel driveway, in a home where the fireplace heated the living room, I would sit at the kitchen counter watching my mother fret over the final step of this meal. Anxiously, I awaited a bowl of warmth, eager to comfort my Mama about her dumplings while I gobbled them down.
While preparing it the first time this year I spent a lot of time thinking about the last time I made Chicken & Dumplings. My father passed away a little over a year ago in August of 2010. He was diagnosed with cancer only 50 days before he took his leave of this world. In those 50 days I spent as many days as possible with him. I would travel the 5 hours as fast as I could just to sit with him and hold his hand. He really wasn’t eating that well which worried the foodie in me more than anything else. But he did make a request on my last visit up to see him; Chicken & Dumplings. I poured every ounce of love and faith and hope and healing into that meal that I had to give. And in the end, we sat together and ate. I told him I thought the dumplings were runny. He smiled and told me he loved it.
This dish is so much more than dinner for me. I never make it rushed or casually. The way the smell of simmering chicken in homemade broth fills the house, the dumplings as they pop up and bob all fluffy and white, the rich creamy flavor of the chicken; it is comfort. The comfort of parents and childhood and memories more precious than gold.
- 1 (3lb) whole chicken, cut up
- 3 quarts water
- 2 tbs minced onion
- 2 tsp whole celery seed
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp thyme
- 2 tbs course salt
- 2 tsp pepper
- 3 crushed chicken flavored bouillons
- 2 cups bisquick
- 3 tsp dried sweet basil
- 2/3 cup whole milk
Putting It All Together:
- Combine chicken, water, minced onion, celery seed, garlic powder, thyme and salt in a large pot.
- Bring to boil; reduce heat to simmer.
- Cover and simmer for 1 & 1/2 hours.
- Remove from heat and remove chicken to large cutting board.
- Allow chicken to cool (approx. 15 minutes).
- Meanwhile strain broth, discarding solids and skim of fat.
- Return 8 cups of broth to large pot (save the rest of broth for other cooking in a glass jar).
- Stir pepper and crushed bouillons into broth.
- Skin and bone chicken, shredding meat with fingers.
- Place chicken in a dish and cover; set asside.
- Combine bisquick and sweet basil in a mixing bowl.
- Add milk and stir just until moistened.
- Bring broth to a simmer (careful not to boil).
- Drop dumplings in batches (about 2 tbs in size) into simmering broth.
- Cover and cook about 6 minutes.
- Remove dumplings to platter and repeat steps 14 & 15 with rest of dough.
- Add chicken back to broth and add dumplings on top.
- Simmer about 3 minutes, just to warm everything up.
- Serve immediately.