We have had a lot of chicken and dumplings weather this year have we not? To be honest, any weather can be chicken and dumplings weather, but when it’s cold, damp, and dreary, a bowl of chicken and dumplings seems like manna from heaven. Forget all the rules of nutrition and proper presentation—what is supposed to be required to make food appealing—things like color and interesting flavor combination. Chicken and dumplings are not "gourmet" and people should never attempt to make them so. They are pure comfort; monochromatic, delicious, no frills, no surprises comfort.
There is some controversy surrounding chicken and dumplings (henceforth referred to as C&D in this article), though. All forms of C&D begin with stewed chicken and the broth that results. There are variations on what is added to the chicken as it stews. Some people add seasoning vegetables and various herbs, some do not. Some de-bone and de-skin the chicken and de-fat the broth, some do not. All of these methods are the "right" way, as far as I am concerned. Most people agree that the way their mother or grandmother did it is the correct way.
Here is the controversial part—the dumplings themselves. I grew up in the Southeast and my Granny, who lived in South Georgia, was the dumplings queen of the entire region. Everyone loved Louise’s dumplings and she was always expected to bring them to every covered-dish event. In the Southeast, dumplings are made of an unleavened dough—no baking powder or soda—that is rolled out thin, cut into strips, and laid into the kettle full of broth. The dumplings at Cracker Barrel are of that style. When I moved to Texas 26 years ago, I found dumplings that were basically little bits of biscuit dough. Someone told me they were making C&D, then I saw them get a box of Bisquik out of the cupboard. Hmmmm…. I was so confused! Now I am very open-minded about food, in fact, I will eat most anything that is not moving around on its own! So I tried these so-called dumplings and found them to be delicious—different from my Granny’s, but delicious.
At some point, I realized that when the average person speaks of C&D, they are probably thinking of the biscuit-style dumplings. Fortunately, I had my Granny give me a full-blown lesson in how to make them Georgia-style, because she, of course, never used a recipe. Every recipe I have ever seen for C&D is for the biscuit-style dumplings. But last week, I received my new copy of Cooks Country magazine and right there on the cover was a headline that read, "Chicken and Slicks: Best Dumplings You’ve Never Had." While I have never heard them called that, I looked at the article and there they were! My Granny’s dumplings! The recipe is modernized, they use a food processor to mix the dough that my granny mixed with her hands, for example. Other than some very minor differences in ingredients, they are the same C&D I grew up with and still make to this day. I feel so validated.
When it comes to C&D, I say vive la différence—or, there are only two kinds of C&D— good and really good! I would love to hear about the "right" way to make them in your family: . SpringCreekArtsGuild@gmail.com.