There are dishes in my family that have been created (at least) through three generations: my great-grandmother, grandmother, mom, sister, and me (and sometimes my eldest nephew). One of those recipes is my grandmother’s chicken and dumplins. Yes. Dumplins. There is a recipe written on lined paper in my grandmother’s hand that says dumplins. Unfortunately, she left off the recipe for the first half of the equation (as well as the all-important “juice” or soup). My late uncle Billy also had a chicken and dumplins recipe that was so close to my grandmother’s that eventually they melded. My sister has spent the last several years perfecting the recipe. My nephew even makes the recipe, and he’s 11. This is not a veggie broth chicken and dumplins. This is chicken…and dumplins. And the “juice”/soup is what makes it. At least in my opinion. For some in our family, it’s the dumplins. For me and a few others, it’s the juice. I would be happy with a bowl of juice with one lone dumplin and one square inch of chicken. I’m weird that way, I know. A few years ago, my sister invited me over to learn how to make chicken and dumplins. I wrote down what she did, and I’m ready to share that with you now.
Chicken and Dumplins
1 whole chicken, cut up (do not think to get by with boneless, skinless chicken breasts–you need the big kahuna)
3 cups flour
1/2 cup shortening (Crisco)
1 teaspoon salt
water to make the dough
1 can evaporated milk + 2 tablespoons/pats worth of butter or an equal amount of half-and-half (My sister insists the half and half is closest to our grandmother’s recipe)
1 can cream of chicken soup
2-3 cans chicken broth, if necessary
Boil chicken. Take out of broth to cool. (My sister recommends cooking the chicken the night before and separating the chicken from the broth.) Add broth if necessary to “boiled chicken water.”
In a big bowl, place dry ingredients and shortening. Use whisk (my sister does not use a pastry knife) to cut shortening into the flour. Add water and work with hands until workable (as a dry biscuit dough). Roll, a “snowball size” at a time on a floured surface until “pie crust” thickness. Cut into dumplins (strips 1″x2 1/2″) with a butter knife.
Heat the broth to a rolling boil. Drop dumplins in one at a time. Boil at “high” until there is a crackling noise, then reduce to about medium-high (“7” on your stove settings, if you have it). While boiling, scrape the bottom of the pan, adding broth to ensure that nothing “sticks.”
Cook 15 minutes. Whisk together cream of chicken soup and evaporated milk/butter (or half-and-half) mixture. Add this and the chicken to the pot and stir gently. Turn off heat and tightly cover with a lid.
When ready to serve, reheat over medium until hot.