Not many people know much about me, except for the fact that I am a Yankee married to a Southerner who lives in Maryland and likes to cook. After I started working with The Hungry Southerner, I entered into the terrific world of teaching first grade. I never thought that I would wish so much more for extra hours in a day until I spent one full week in the classroom. I love my little kiddies, but I miss my free time. And the kitchen. My poor husband has had two home cooked meals in the past 30 days.
I was quite excited that the folks who create the Yankee Challenges decided to give me another chance cooking with a sneaky whole chicken. I studied for my Chicken and Dumpling Challenge by reading lots of good ole Southern recipes on what ingredients make the best Chicken and Dumplings. Then I had to wait for a free moment to attempt the Chicken and Dumplings. My chance did not come until the second to last day of the month, but boy was it worth the wait! I invited my good friend, Becky, (who is also a teacher) to come over and watch me work some magic in the kitchen.
My research told me I needed a whole chicken, water, onions, carrots, celery, flour, baking powder, and milk. It seems those are the most important ingredients for CnDs. Then I tossed in bay leaves and parsley to the chicken pot, some cayenne and garlic powder to the dough batter, and nixed anything fattening from my meal. I boiled my chicken for 45 minutes in a big pot with water, half an onion, and 2 bay leaves. Then I removed my poor chicken friend and let him sit in another big pot until he cooled. (Side note: I think I have some issues with cooking a whole chicken – with its wings and legs still in tact, I felt like it was going to start dancing around every time I touched it.) Once my chicken was cooled, I began separating the juicy meat from the bones and skin. For a small chicken, there was a TON of meat!
After the broth sat on a cold burner for 45 minutes, I skimmed off some of the fat that was sitting on the top of the water using a slotted spoon. I turned the heat onto medium, and added diced carrots, celery, and onion to the chicken broth. I tossed in another bay leaf. Then I slowly poured in my chicken pieces.
In a mixing bowl, I combined 2 c flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp cayenne pepper, 1 tsp garlic salt, and 1 c milk. Using a spoon, I mixed the mess to form a dough. Then, instead of rolling the dough out and cutting it into strips (as I had seen in some recipes), I grabbed a handful of dough and rolled it between my hands to form a log. I pinched off pieces about the length of my thumb and dropped them into the pot. I repeated this process until the dough was gone. I mixed my chicken and dumplings using a large wooden spoon and cooked it until my dumplings tasted like perfect little balls of cooked dough.
Some recipes use large amounts of flour and melted chicken fat to make a thick batch of chicken and dumpling, and other recipes use cans of condensed soups. My friend, Becky, and I are very health conscious, so I tried to keep my chicken and dumplings light. My broth was perfect – a little thick from the dough-y spicy dumplings, and it tasted like celery, onions, and carrots. Becky and I each had two bowls of steaming Chicken n Dumplings alongside a glass of Chianti on a very rainy windy Thursday night. It was the perfect dinner and a meal I am going to be recreating all throughout this Fall and Winter!