Every Thanksgiving and Christmas, the extended family would get together for family meals, and Granny would serve the same things each year. Turkey, ham, dressing, deviled eggs, and my favorite chicken and dumplings. Although dumplings are hardly what most families would call traditional holiday food, they are a staple at our family gatherings.
Chicken and dumplings are my favorite food anyway, but something about Granny's version made them THE best dumplings I have ever had. I smile as I remember asking Granny for the recipe every year, and every time she rolled her eyes and told me there is no recipe because it's in her head.
You see, Granny was an old Southern cook who did not use recipes. Back in her day, mothers cooked everything from scratch and taught those lessons to their daughters. That's a tradition that never should have died, but one that far too many of us are forgetting these days. Granny cooked by what she knew food should look and taste like instead of using recipes. In fact, I don't know if I ever saw a cookbook at her house, yet she was a fabulous cook.
1. Use a whole chicken. She said you need the fat and the dark meat to make good broth and to give the dumplings flavor.
2. Regardless of the dough used for dumplings, the trick is to put the dough in the refrigerator so it will be cold. She recommended making the dough in advance and keeping in the fridge for at least an hour, but even longer is best if you can wait. Cold dough doesn't rise, which makes the dumplings flat.
It has been a few years since I've enjoyed Granny's famous chicken and dumplings. Health issues prevented her from hosting the family meals for a few years, and then she passed away last spring.
Today, the tradition of making chicken and dumplings for the family is on my shoulders. Although I've tried many recipes, I've never been able to make them taste exactly like hers. However, I have come up with a version that is full of flavor that my family really likes.
I guess I follow the tradition that Granny had in giving tips to create delicious food. My secret in making good chicken and dumplings is to use fresh herbs. I know they aren't traditional ingredients in most dumpling recipes, but I've found fresh herbs to give the broth a better flavor than dried herbs.
I've also started using gluten free dough for my dumplings to accommodate my dietary needs. I know a lot of you do not need gluten free food, so if you want to make these dumplings, save yourself some money. (Gluten free food is expensive!) Use whatever dough you use for biscuits and follow the rest of the recipe for some great tasting dumplings!
Gluten Free Chicken And Dumplings
1 whole chicken
Lots of fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, and sage)
Salt and pepper
Canned chicken broth (optional if needed)
1 box Gluten Free Bisquick (plus extra Bisquick or GF flour for dusting)
1/3 cup shortening
2/3 cup milk
1. Remove giblets from chicken and wash it inside and out. (I know Granny used the giblets, so maybe that is her secret. I just can't bring myself to use them.)
2. Put chicken in a large pot and cover with water. Then add a pat of butter and a tablespoon of salt and a teaspoon of pepper. Chop up a lot of herbs and add them to the pot. In general, I use the leaves of 2 sprigs of sage, 4-5 sprigs of thyme, and 2 sprigs of rosemary.
3. Cook chicken for about one and a half hours or until chicken is done. Remove chicken from the pot, leaving the broth. If it looks like there isn't enough broth, add a can of chicken broth.
|I cook the chicken until it's very tender and falls apart. If you do not need all the chicken for your dumplings, this makes great chicken salad for another meal.|
|Normally I keep the broth in the pot, but I wanted to show you what the broth looks like and generally how much you will need. This pitcher of broth makes a large pot of dumplings. You can remove the fat from the pot if you wish.|
5. Add milk and eggs to the flour and stir until dough forms. You may need to use your hands to shape it into a disk. Cover dough with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for at least an hour so it will get cold.
|Mix in eggs and milk.|
|This forms a very soft dough. Carefully shape into a disk with your hands, cover with plastic wrap, then chill.|
6. When dough is chilled, cover a cutting board with extra Bisquick or gluten free flour. Put dough on the board and sprinkle with extra flour. Roll dough until it's about 1/4 inch thick. Cut dough into strips. Leave the extra flour on the dough to thicken the broth.
8. When broth is boiling, add dumplings to the pot one at a time. Do not stir. Remove fat and bones from chicken and shred into bite size pieces. Add as much chicken to the broth as needed. Cook approx 20 minutes or until dumplings no longer have a doughy taste.
If you like soups and stews, you may want to see my Soup Recipes.
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