Maw Maw's Chicken and Dumplings
Source of Recipe
From "The Glory of Southern Cooking" by James Villas
"I can still see our neighbor in Charlotte, Mr. Nunn, bring the hatchet down precisely on the neck of an old hen from his chicken coop, sending the bird flopping about the sandy yard like the proverbial chicken with its head cut off. After scalding, plucking, and dressing the fowl, he wrapped it in newspaper, handed it to me, and said, 'Here, son, take this to your mamma and grandmamma and they'll make you a good Brunswick stew or pot of chicken and dumplings.' If I learned nothing else from watching Maw Maw make her chicken and dumplings and tasting the sumptuous result, it was that it's almost pointless to make this dish with anything but a stewing hen, since a rich broth is obligatory to give the dumplings full flavor. Also, for just the right texture, the dumplings must be cooked *before* the chicken and vegetables are thickened. Properly made, chicken and dumplings is one of the true glories of authentic Southern cookery, a dish fit for both an informal family supper and the most elegant dinner party."
List of Ingredients
For the Chicken:
◦ One 4- to 5-pound fowl (stewing hen), cut into serving pieces
◦ 1 large onion, quartered
◦ 2 ribs celery (leaves included), chopped
◦ 4 carrots, scraped and cut into thick rounds
◦ Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
◦ 1 quart water
◦ 1 cup whole milk
◦ ¼ cup all-purpose flour blended with ¼ cup water
For the Dumplings:
◦ 1 cup all-purpose flour
◦ 1 teaspoon baking powder
◦ ½ teaspoon salt
◦ 2 tablespoons chilled vegetable shortening
◦ ½ cup whole milk
To cook the chicken, combine all the ingredients for the chicken except the flour-and-water mixture in a large, heavy pot over moderately high heat. Bring to a slow boil and skim the surface of any froth. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook till the chicken is very tender, about 2 ½ hours.
Meanwhile, to make the dumplings, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together into a bowl and cut in the shortening with a pastry cutter till the mixture is mealy. Add the milk and mix lightly till the dough just holds together. (Do not overmix.)
With the chicken gently bubbling, drop the dough by rounded tablespoons into the liquid and simmer, uncovered, about 10 minutes. Cover and simmer the dumplings 10 minutes longer. With a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate, and keep warm.
To finish the dish, drain the cooking liquid into a bowl, skim off the fat, and pour 3 cups of the liquid into a saucepan, adding a little water if necessary. Add the flour-and-water mixture and stir over moderately high heat till the sauce is thickened. Pour the sauce over the chicken and vegetables and reheat about 10 minutes.
Serve the chicken and dumplings together on heated plates.
Makes 6 servings