My Grandma’s Dumplings
The first dumplings I ever ate were my Grandma Jo’s. She was a woman of the South, born and bred just outside of Houston in a town her grandfather built called Splendora. Her chicken and dumplings were homey and comfortable, even delicious if she made an effort. Unfortunately, by the time she was making chicken and dumplings for me she was at the stage of her life where she more interested in ways to reduce her workload than in cooking. Her “dumplings” were flour tortillas cut into strips (that approach works better than you might expect.) On special occasions though, she hired a local cook and her friends to make them.
The Best Chicken and Dumplings I Ever Ate
Now, I know very little about these women. I think one was the grandmother of one of the girls I went to school with. My grandmother never introduced the group of ladies that would come over and transform her quiet kitchen into a busy, efficient space just humming with laughter and steaming pots of chicken. They would come into my Grandmother’s kitchen, full of laughter and loud conversation, reminding me of African-American versions of Lila, our cook in Honduras. They were so comfortable and at home in my Grandma’s kitchen. I couldn’t imagine ever being allowed such liberties. Those chicken and dumplings? They are the ones I dream about.
The chicken and dumplings they made began with a pale yellow broth that only comes from making stock from a whole chicken. They would pick all the meat off that chicken and shred it into strips. Then they would then drop flat, fat, floury noodles into the simple broth flavored only with some onion, celery, carrots, salt, and pepper. The dumplings cooked in the broth until they plumped up and floated to the top. Each dumpling slowly making the broth progressively thicker and more gravy-like. I would watch in fascination, hoping to be offered a dumpling to taste test or (even better!) a full bowl; hopefully, before my Grandma caught me begging.
Tracy’s Chicken and Dumplings
I have been trying to recreate these dumplings ever since! I think the ones I make are pretty darn good. I’ve learned how to make a classic chicken broth by reading every recipe I can get my hands on. A good broth is simple to make and well worth the extra time. You can use canned or boxed, but it’s basically the main flavor in this dish, so I think its worth it. I’ve kept my chicken and dumpling simple with just a few classic vegetables but I did fancy things up a bit with some herbs in the dumpling dough. I can’t remember a single Southern Granny doing this, so if you want to keep things classic, just skip ’em. (I won’t be mad, you do you!)
Chicken and Dumplings
Chicken and Dumplings
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