Tracy’s Chicken and Herbed Dumplings

Tracy’s Chicken and Herbed Dumplings

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!)

 

Tracy's Chicken and Herbed Dumplings

Chicken and Herb Dumplings

Yield: 8 people
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours 15 minutes

This is a Texas style chicken and dumplings with a rich thick broth, a bit of celery and carrots and delicious plump dumplings studded with herbs. 

Ingredients

Chicken Broth

  • 1 tbsp Kosher Salt, Diamond Crystal
  • 1 tbsp Peppercorns, Tellicherry
  • 3 Carrots, whole
  • 2 Celery Stalks, whole
  • 1 Onion
  • 1/2 bunch Parsley
  • 6 sprigs Thyme
  • 4 Chicken thighs
  • 12 Chicken wings
  • 2 Chicken breasts

Herbed Dumplings

  • 3 cups Flour, All Purpose
  • 2 tsp Baking powder
  • 1 cup Milk, whole
  • 1/3 cup Herbs: parsley, thyme and chives
  • 1/2 cup Lard or shortening

Chicken and Dumplings

  • 1 recipe Chicken broth
  • 3 Carrots, diced
  • 2 Celery stalks, diced
  • 1/2 Onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp Butter, unsalted

Instructions

Chicken Broth

  1. Fill soup pot with water a little more than halfway. Add 1 tablespoon of salt, all the vegetables, chicken (minus the breasts) and the herbs to the pot and boil gently. Skim the white foam off the top as it forms.
  2. Once you have skimmed the white foam off, reduce heat and simmer 2.5 hours. Taste intermittently while it simmers and add more salt if you think it needs it.
  3. After 2.5 hours of simmering add reserved chicken breasts and simmer for 25-30 minutes. Remove the breasts. At this point the chicken thighs and wings should be falling apart. Take out all the rest of the solids and discard. If the remaining chicken is not falling apart simmer a little longer 20 minutes or so. Remove the remaining chicken and set aside to cool. Remove the remaining solids and discard.
  4. Line a fine mesh colander with cheese cloth and place over a large bowl and strain the broth.
  5. Remove the skin from the chicken breasts, thighs and wings and discard (I personally give it to my pups, they love it!) Pick off all the meat and reserve for later. 

Dumplings

  1. In a large bowl add all your dry ingredients for the dumplings. Mix well until all the herbs are evenly distributed throughout the mixture.
  2. Add the lard to your dry ingredients and combine with your hands until all the lard is worked in.
  3. Add milk and stir in until the dry mixture becomes a dough. Stir as little as you can. You want it to just come together, but the more your stir the tougher your dumplings will be.
  4. Lightly flour your work surface and turn the dumplings out. Kneed 6-7 times and cut into three sections.
  5. Roll the first section out to 1/16th inch and cut into 1.5 inch pieces. At this point you can refrigerate your dumplings up to 24 hours.

Chicken and Dumplings

  1. Melt butter in a soup pot and then add the onions, carrots and celery. Cook until all ingredients have softened. 
  2. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Taste stock and add salt or pepper if needed.
  3. Drop in your dumplings one at a time, stirring as you go until all dumplings are in the stock. Bring stock back up to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Taste again. Adjust seasoning if needed.
  4. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes stir and then cover and simmer an additional 15 minutes. 
  5. Time to eat!

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Honduran Skirt Steak

Honduran Skirt Steak

My Comfort Food

My family has deep roots in the Americas. On my Dad’s side, the part of America we have been in for more generations back than we can track, is Central America. We come from a mountainous part of Honduras called Santa Barbara. I’ve been told that our family’s land even has a castle on it! I never visited Santa Barbara or the castle. My childhood was a series of moves through out Central America and the US. I lived in Honduras, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Florida, Pennsylvania and Texas; all before I was nine.

As a result the food of my childhood is pretty varied. I wasn’t a peanut butter and jelly girl, that’s for sure. I was the kid who loved lobster …and mac and cheese! When I was in the US, I ate any weird thing and grossed other kids out with stories of eating tongue and whole fish (with the eyeballs still there!) When I was in Central America, I enthralled other kids with tales of hamburgers, pizza and Dunkin Donuts. One thing both food cultures have in common is a good steak. A Honduran Skirt Steak or Carne Asada a good ‘ol American Steak both have a place in my heart and on my plate!

The Plato Typico

Some of my very favorite meals are comforting, simple foods. In Honduras you find food on what is routinely called the “plato typico.” This usually consists of fried ripe plantains (maduros), Honduran red beans, or black beans with rice (comunion), some pickeled vegetables called curtido (usually cabbage but sometimes onions or a medley of cauliflower and carrots), tortilla, some queso fresco and the main event is the Honduran skirt steak or carne asada. Versions of carne asada are found all over Latin America. In Honduras though, carne asada means one thing and one thing only: grilled skirt steak or sirloin marinated in a mixture of naranja agria, cumin, salt and oil.

The Naranja Argia Problem

The key flavors in Honduran Skirt Steak are the cumin and the naranja agria (sour orange). So making this dish here in the US can be tricky because… well, when was the last time you saw naranja agria at your local mega mart? A latin or specialty grocer in your city may have it but, even then you are more likely to find it in a bottle. If you do find the fruit, buy it and use it (get yourself some ripe plantains while you are at it!) If you don’t, the problem is simple to solve. Just use a combination of orange and lime. It’s not a perfect replacement, but it’s pretty darn good!

Making Honduran Skirt Steak Paleo

Issue number two with the most common version of Honduran Skirt Steak is that it contains worchesteshire sauce. Which as a paleo-ish eater I try and avoid. The most popular store bought version has quite a bit of sugar added. I am hyper-aware of these types of hidden sugars and try to avoid them. In my first few attempts at this, I skipped the worchesteshire sauce completely. I was dissappointed with the results. I looked for a paleo version and to be honest, while they were delicious umami bombs, they did not taste at all like the original. So I decided to make my own. Check out the recipe for it!

Serve with Chimol, Curtido de Repollo, rice and beans

Tim’s Picks!

I will earn a small commision on some of the products on this page if you purchase through my link. I have only recommended products I know and love. I have not recieved anything from these companies for free.

Pairing Considerations

Steak. The easiest pairing to make, right? You could just grab the good ‘ol Cabernet and you’re all set. Look, I like Cabernet. It’s grown everywhere, it packs a ton of flavor, and you can find a good bottle in any shop. However, there is a whole world of wine out there and so many grapes to make wine with, you could have a different wine everyday FOR YEARS! Seriously, why limit yourself?

The Wine

My pairing for Tracy’s Honduran skirt steak is Lioco “Sativa” Carignan out of Mendocino County. Dry-farmed from 70 year old mountain vines, this red is racy and vibrant, with dark berry fruit, hints of herbs, and cocoa. The fruit is fresh and juicy, easily matching the recipe’s citrus marinade and complementing the use of the grill. Enjoy!
 

Honduran Skirt Steak

Honduran Skirt Steak

A paleo friendly version of this tasty steak! Enjoy with fried ripe plantain and a tangy cabbage slaw.

Ingredients

  • Skirt Steak
  • 2 tbsp Kosher Salt, Diamond Crystal
  • 1/2 cup Orange Juice
  • 1/4 cup Lime Juice
  • 4 cloves Garlic, minced or crushed
  • 1 tsp Kosher Salt, Diamond Crystal
  • 2 tsp Cumin, ground
  • 1 tbsp Paleo Worchesteshire Sauce
  • 1/2 cup Olive Oil

Instructions

  1. Give yourself 2-3 days in advance for this. Both the salting and marinade steps will lead to a more delicious steak. If you skip them, it will be tasty but not nearly as great as it could have been.
  2. Salt steak liberally with salt and place in a covered bowl or ziplock back for 24-48 hours
  3. After at least 24 hours and at least 12 hours before you are ready to grill prepare marinade.
  4. Combine orange juice, lime juice, salt, cumin, garlic, worchesteshire and olive oil and pour over steak. Let it marinade for 12-24 hours
  5. Grill your steaks over high heat for 5-6 minutes per side
  6. Remove from grill and let it rest for 5-10 minutes before serving

 

 

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