Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A large hen and some other stuff

I attempted for the second time to make my grandmother's chicken and dumplings recipe.

Why is it that no one measured anything back in that era?

"A little bit" is not a measurement. "The size of your fist" ... also not accurate.

No wonder our recipes never taste like our grandmother's recipes. It's all a matter of perspective.

I think it's a conspiracy. Then, no one could ever say, "It's just not as good as Grandma's." I'm sure I'm onto something.

Well, I did make the chicken and dumplings the old-fashioned way. No biscuit cans. No Bisquick. No cream of chicken soup.

I boiled the "large hen" that the recipe called for. I debated, while standing in the meat dept., which hen was a "large hen." I finally settled on a 5 1/2 pounder.

I rolled out the dumplings and cut them by hand.

La Petite Belle looked a little cleaner than I did.

The final result was pure comfort. My children each had seconds and said they thought it was delicious. Both of them liking a dish this much rarely happens. I felt quite good about my endeavor.

Here it is: True Southern Chicken and Dumplings. Northern dumplings look and taste quite different.
Now, for the recipe, that has been handed down from my great-great-grandmother and probably her mother too. It's old, people.

Chicken and Dumplings

Boil 1 large hen in salted water until cooked; cool and debone.

In medium large bowl, put 3 T. butter (at room temp.) with 1 large egg and beat until mixed. Add 2 c. half-and-half, 1/2 tsp. salt, and sufficient flour to make stiff enough to handle. Roll out on a floured surface into 1/4-inch thick. Cut in grid fashion. Drop one piece at a time into 6 c. chicken broth over medium-low heat. In between layers of dumplings, sift a little flour, a little heavy cream (I used half-and-half.), and black pepper. Do not stir. Add the chicken on top of the dumplings. Cover and cook on low heat until done. Do not handle dough too much as it will become tough.

That's it.
Like I said, there's quite a bit of room for error, but for the most part, I don't think it's that difficult.

This was the one recipe I asked for every time I went to Grandma's house. I remember the dumplings being light and fluffy. Total perfection.

It's hard to match the memory of what it tasted like, but it was still very good.

For more fall recipes, head over to Linda's. This will be going on for the next 5 weeks. Fun.


Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you posted this and you KNOW I copied and pasted the recipe to print out. When I saw yesterday that you mentioned it on FB, I so wanted to know the recipe. I WILL be trying it myself. Wish me luck! LOL

Thanks, Daph!!!
Kim F

Rachelle said...

Yumm-O!!!!! Looks wonderful.

I agree with the grandma's and how you can never match up to their cooking. My mom and I try, but fail miserably.

sara said...

way to go! that looks GREAT!

my kids always yell at me when I am teaching them a favorite recipe b/c I don't measure many things either......shhhhhsshhh on the conspiracy! I am hoping it will just bring them home more!!! :)

Sera said...

This soooo looks like my grandma's chicken and dumplings! She gave me her recipe too... over the phone... complete with "a little of this" and "a little of that". I haven't tried it yet, but I think I will try yours, since it gives a bit more info. I am still trying to figure out my grandma's pecan shortbread thumbprint cookies... I've made them MANY times, and they still don't taste the same. I am totally in agreement with you. I think they do that so that you can always say that yours is never as good as theirs. :)

Katie@The Baby Factory said...

That looks amazing. I'm coming over to sneak your leftovers.
Just kidding.
I had no idea there were northern and southern chicken & dumplings.

Amy@My Front Porch said...

I asked my Grandma to give me her recipe for her famous cinnamon rolls once and got the "a little of this", "a smidgen of that" version -- MADNESS! I think you're on to something with the conspiracy theory ;)

That dish looks delicious though -- I'm super impressed :)

jennifer said...

The recipe thing was the same thing for us with my mother's cornbread. And I never got it but my husband did - the man can cook anything.

I'll have to run the recipe by him. I've never been a dumpling person but he might like them. They certainly looked good in the picture.

Have a great week Mama Belle.

Chel's Leaving a Legacy said...

Seriously, I have chicken pulled out to make chicken and dumplins for tonight. What perfect timing! I get to try yours instead!

Linda @ My Trendy Tykes said...

I love chicken and dumplings!!

thedomesticfringe said...

I obviously know nothing about chicken and dumplings, because I just didn't expect it to look like that. It's white! What can I say? I'm not Southern. I guess I expected it to be like chicken in gravy with noodle clumps...I'm so ignorant. It looks good. How can it not be good with 2 cups of 1/2 & 1/2?

Maybe I'll have to try this and surprise FringeMan...

TCKK said...

I love chicken and dumplings. My grandma used to make them too and they looked a lot like yours. My mom can make them too. Now if I want them I go to Cracker Barrel. lol

2nd Cup of Coffee said...

Grandma AND Paula Deen would be proud. I only tried to make dumplin's once in my life about 30 years ago. Maybe I should try again. {Shiver}

Michelle said...

ya know, i think you're on to something! every.single.time i ask for a family recipe its a pinch of this and pinch of that....drives me crazy!

I'm from the south, so i have no clue what northern chicken and dumplings are?????

Rachel @ Future Pastor's Wife said...

What are northern dumplings? Because my grandma makes chicken & dumplings with drops dumplings and she's lived her entire life in south Georgia. I don't think she's ever BEEN to the north.

Debra said...

Oh....yummy, this makes me miss the south and my Grannies and Mamaw who used to make Chicken and Dumplin's all the time! I helped my great grandma (mamaw) make them once when I was 18, but like you said, she had no recipe, so I guess I should have taken notes. LOL My sister tried to give me the recipe over the phone one day, but again....no recipe....just something about making a well with your flour, salt & pepper it real good and add the egg etc. make the dough and roll it out and cut and drop in one at a time and so on. Arrrg!

When I first moved to the northwest, I got so excited when my aunt who was raised in the northwest, said she was gonna make chicken ~n~ dumplin's, until she put it in front of me in a bowl and I said, "What's that big ball thingy in it?" To which she replied, "That's the dumpling!" Ok....NOOOO....that was definitely not the dumplin's I was raised on...EW...it was big balls of dough dropped in it and yuck, it was terrible to this here, southern girl at heart! LOL