Take cool-weather comfort in chicken and dumplings

November 14, 2012 

Dumplings possibly got their name from globs of dough being dumped into a pot of chicken stew, or so thinks reader Jack Bethea, who offers his take on southern dumplins.

Reader Larry Cunningham of Gulfport, Miss., asked readers for help in finding fat, round German-type dumplings, not the thin, square ones his Southern wife made him when they were first married. He was reared in Massachusetts around some great German cooks. Readers Myra Jones and Lynette Faul found recipes for him to try.

"Larry Cunningham's fat and round dumplings are indeed Yankee style," Bethea said. "However, the Southern-style chicken and dumplings of my grandmother's, and of every other ole-timey country cook I can remember from childhood (and I'm the wrong side of 70), were always rolled out with a rolling pin. In those days these dumplings were called Mississippi slickers. Just a note, not a contention, as I probably wouldn't turn down a plate cooked Mr. Cunningham's way.

"While we are on the subject of chicken and dumplings that most Southerners are familiar with, let's take this basic dish to the next level, Bethea said. Even better by far than chicken and dumplings is squirrel and dumplings (rolled-out, of course).

"Wild game was a staple where I grew up. My first hunting experience was bagging a mess of squirrels with my grandfather. I believe squirrel is the sweetest meat in the world. When stewed down like chicken, which is kind of bland except maybe for free-range birds, squirrel and dumplings is much more flavorful; even the old boar squirrels become

sweet and tender. I wish I knew somebody who could still fix squirrel and dumplings."

Readers, anyone have a recipe for squirrel and dumplings?

"Below is a recipe for dumplings as my Southern grandmother used to make them," Myra Jones said. "The recipe is simplicity itself and is from a '1948 Metropolitan Life Insurance Cookbook.' I like the puffy ones best, too, like Larry Cunningham.

"This is just for the dumplings themselves, not the chicken mixture. You can use your favorite recipe for that," Jones said. "Basically you would cook bite-sized pieces of chicken and any vegetables you like in chicken broth, thickening the liquid just a bit. I use onions, carrots, potatoes and celery. This dumpling recipe uses all purpose flour, with added salt and baking powder, but it's easier to use self-rising flour."

DUMPLINGS

2 cups flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk or water

Chopped parsley, optional

Black pepper, optional

I like to add some chopped parsley and perhaps a bit of pepper.

Sift dry ingredients and add liquid. Mix to a batter that will drop from a spoon. Be sure not to crowd the dumplings, as they will puff up and spread out.

Drop spoonfuls of batter into the boiling stew, being careful that there is plenty of liquid and no possibility of boiling dry. Cover and cook undisturbed for 10-20 minutes, depending on the size of the dumplings. Enjoy.

-- Submitted by Myra Jones

"I found this recipe for chicken and dumplings in my German/Viennese cookbook," Faul said. "This recipe is the same as stewed chicken with noodles, but the noodles are omitted and replaced with dumplings."

PLAIN DUMPLINGS

Sift together 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour, 4 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt.

Cut in 1 tablespoon shortening with pastry cutter or two knives until pieces are the size of rice kernels. Quickly stir in 2/3 cup of milk and 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley with a fork until just blended. Shape dough into balls about 2 inches in diameter.

For herb dumplings: Stir in 1 teaspoon marjoram.

-- Submitted by Lynette Faul

CHICKEN WITH DUMPLINGS

Set out a kettle/pot with tight fitting lid.

Clean 1 (4- to 5-pound) stewing chicken. Disjoint and cut into serving size pieces. Rinse pieces and giblets. Refrigerate liver. Put chicken, gizzard, heart and neck into pot. Add hot water to barely cover.

Add to water: 1 small onion, 3 sprigs parsley, 2 (3-inch) stalks of celery with leaves, 1 bay leaf, 2 to 3 peppercorns, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 1/3 teaspoons monosodium glutamate.

Bring water to boiling, remove foam. Cover kettle tightly, reduce heat and simmer chicken 1 hour, skimming foam from surface as necessary. Continue cooking chicken 1 to 2 hours longer or until thickest pieces are tender.

About 30 minutes before chicken is tender, add liver to kettle and mix in 2 cups of canned green peas. Drop dumplings by spoonfuls on top of chicken pieces. Dumplings should rest on top of chicken. If they settle down in the liquid, the dumplings may become soggy. If necessary, pour off excess liquid to prevent this. Cover tightly and continue cooking over medium heat 20 minutes without removing cover.

Remove dumplings and chicken to warm serving dish. Keep warm. Reserve peas when broth is strained.

Make a gravy from you favorite recipe and add only 1 1/2 cups of the peas to the gravy, reserving about 1/2 cup for garnish.

-- Submitted by Lynette Faul

World Food Championships

Linda Bonwill of Englewood was named the first World Side-Dish champion in the World Food Championships in Las Vegas on Nov. 3 and 4 for her side dish, Cobb potato salad. She won $10,000 and earned one of seven seats at the Final Table showdown, where she placed fifth overall and took home an additional $2.500 for her broccoli and cauliflower soup using Philadelphia cream cheese, the World Side-Dish sponsor.

Bonwill, a Just a Pinch online recipe winner, was one of nearly 300 culinary competitors in the inaugural World Food Championships at Bally's Las Vegas and Caesars Palace.

Cornbread stuffed pork chops, anyone?

"Once again I need your help," said Susan Daugherty of Bradenton. "I used to have a great cookbook called 'Cooking for Today,' although it was dated around 1990. Somehow I have misplaced it.

"There is a pork chop recipe in it for cornbread stuffed pork chops, which is the best stuffed chop recipe I ever made. You use cornbread stuffing, bacon, onion, celery and some spices in it. Can you ask your readers if they have this recipe? I appreciate it," she said.

Readers, search your cookbooks and computer files for this recipE.

Coming up

Wayne Baquet of the renowned Lil' Dizzy's restaurant in New Orleans will share some ways to spice up the holidays and what to do with leftover turkey in next week's column.

Andrea Yeager, can be reached at ayeager51@cableone.net. If requesting a recipe, include the name or describe it.

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