Friday, June 24, 2011

Chicken & Dumplings

This will be a difficult recipe to explain, as it's one of those family recipes that have been passed down over and over without being written in any detail.  You add things until they taste right and cook them until they are done.  The old fashioned way does take most of the day, though there are a few shortcuts, such as cooking chicken the day before.  I also sometimes use a large package of 8 chicken thighs instead of a whole chicken, if they happen to be on sale.  Either way, don't just use boneless skinless, chicken breasts.  You really want the flavor of the dark meat and bones in the broth.
Another item of note is the chicken base.  It is not the same as bouillon.  A good chicken base will list "cooked chicken" as it's first ingredient.

Chicken & Dumplings

1 plump, whole chicken
2 c. Bisquick
2/3 c. milk
2-4 Tbsp. Chicken base
Chicken stock or water (up to 16 cups)

1.  Place whole chicken in large stock pot (be sure to remove any giblet packets).  Cover with water.  Bring to a rolling boil.  Lower heat to medium and cover.  Continue to boil, turning occasionally, for 30 minutes-1 hour or until chicken is done.  (Legs will start to fall apart from chicken.)
2.  Remove chicken and allow to cool completely.  Reserve stock.  When chicken is cooled remove meat from bones.  Skim fat from top of stock.
3.  Add more chicken stock or water until you have about 4 quarts and heat over high heat.  Add chicken base according to taste. (More if you are just using water, less if you are using a seasoned stock.)  Add chicken back in and bring again to a rolling boil.
4.  Prepare dumplings by combining bisquick and milk in medium bowl.  Roll dough out very thin on a floured surface.  Using a pizza cutter, cut them into strips, about 1 in wide and 3-4 in long.
5.  Drop the dumplings, one by one, vertically into the boiling pot.  If the dumplings cover the top of the pot, use a spoon to create a small opening to drop dumplings down in to.  DO NOT STIR!  Lower heat to medium and let them continue to boil.  At first the dumplings will all float on top and look like a fluffy white blob.  Eventually, (around 12-15 minutes) they will separate somewhat and you will see a more opaque gravy in between instead of a thin, clear broth.  That is how you will know they are done.
Note:  They often taste even better the second day, as the flavors have more time to develop together.
Finished chicken and dumplings.

source: Mom

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