Daddy’s Dumplings

by Crystal Cook

People are continually asking us all kinds of food-related questions and we never tire of answering them because, well, we just really love food. Things like, “What is your favorite casserole?” or “Can you make a cookbook where the main ingredients of every dish are butter and sugar?” or “Do you dress up as 50’s housewives when you’re alone at home doing your taxes?” But the one that always tends to stump me is “What would you want your last meal to be?” The problem I always have with that question is it depends on who is making the food. For example, Chicken and Dumplings is my favorite meal in the world, but if and only if my Daddy is making them. No prison cook is going to know how to make them taste the way he does– unless perhaps they learned a thing or two from Martha while she was in the joint. Yes, everyone, that’s the second Martha-Stewart-In-Prison reference I’ve made in less than a month. What can I say, locked up or on the streets, the woman gets to me.

Now back to the dumplings—there are just certain things my Daddy does to make them special. Unlike when he makes biscuits, he substitutes the buttermilk in dumplings for whole milk. Why? Using buttermilk can make dumplings too fluffy/doughy. You’re welcome, frustrated Dumpling Artisans of America! Now I will admit, most of the time my Daddy cooks with dried herbs, but he always opts for fresh thyme and rosemary for the dumplings. He adds a little bacon grease from his can by the stove to the mix, as well (yes, my parents still collect bacon grease! We are authentically southern, lest you forget!)

But, let’s say hypothetically I get thrown in the slammer for somethin’ I swear I didn’t do, Judge! And let’s say hypothetically that you were the prison cook and there were regulations against having my father enter the prison kitchen and cook them for me one last time. Here’s how you do it:

Chicken and stock ingredients

Ingredients for the Chicken.

chicken collage

Combine broth, water, chicken, thyme and rosemary sprigs in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes or until chicken is done and no longer pink. Remove pan from heat.

strain collage

Strain broth through a sieve into a large bowl; discard solids and set liquid aside. Remove chicken from bones and shred chicken.  Set chicken aside.

celery garlic carrots and onion

veggie collage

Heat oil in the same Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add carrots, celery, onion, and garlic; sauté 6 minutes or until onion is tender.

add reserved broth and herbs to veggies

Add reserved broth mixture and 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, 1 tablespoon chopped thyme and 1 tablespoon rosemary; simmer 10 minutes.  Keep warm.

dumpling ingredients

While the broth simmers…it is time to make the dumplings! Grab your ingredients!

herbs to flour

Combine flour and rosemary in a bowl.

flour collage

Cut in shortening and bacon drippings with a pastry blender until mixture is crumbly.

milk collage

Add milk, stirring until dry ingredients are moistened.

knead collage

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out to 1/8-inch thickness; cut into 1-inch pieces.

dumpling collage

Roll out to 1/8-inch thickness; cut into 1-inch pieces.

add chicken and dumplings to pan collage

Return chopped chicken to the broth mixture; bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Bring broth mixture to a boil. Drop dumplings, a few at a time, into boiling broth, stirring gently. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer, stirring often, for 25 minutes. Add additional salt and black pepper to taste.  Fold and serve and garnish with fresh parsley.

Finished product

I can leave this world happy now!

How about you? What would be your last meal?

Daddy’s Dumplings:

Approximately 8-10 servings

Chicken:

6 cups chicken broth
2 ½ cups water
1 pound chicken drumsticks, skinned
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
2 thyme sprigs, plus an additional one tablespoon chopped
2 rosemary sprigs, plus an additional one tablespoons chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups carrots, diced
1 1/2 cups celery, chopped
1 cup yellow onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more to taste
Chopped flat leaf parsley for garnish

Dumplings:

3 cups self-rising flour
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
1/3 cup shortening
2 teaspoon reserved bacon fat/drippings
1 cup whole milk

Combine broth, water, chicken, thyme and rosemary sprigs in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes or until chicken is done and no longer pink. Remove pan from heat.  Strain broth through a sieve into a large bowl; discard solids and set liquid aside. Remove chicken from bones and shred chicken.  Set chicken aside. Heat oil in the same Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add carrots, celery, onion, and garlic; sauté 6 minutes or until onion is tender. Add reserved broth mixture and 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, 1 tablespoon chopped thyme and 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary; simmer 10 minutes.  Keep warm.

While broth is simmering, prepare dumplings. Combine flour and rosemary in a bowl. Cut in shortening and bacon fat with a pastry blender until mixture is crumbly. Add milk, stirring until dry ingredients are moistened.  Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out to 1/8-inch thickness; cut into 1-inch pieces.

Return chopped chicken to the broth mixture; bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Bring broth mixture to a boil. Drop dumplings, a few at a time, into boiling broth, stirring gently. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer, stirring often, for 25 minutes. Add additional salt and black pepper to taste.  Fold and serve. Garnish with fresh parsley.

5 Comments to “Daddy’s Dumplings”

  1. Your dish is too busy – most don’t have the ability nor the time. Need more – you guys don’t have kids or babies? christina Date: Thu, 11 Apr 2013 15:18:26 +0000 To: chris31650@msn.com

  2. Hi! Thanks for your comment. In our blog we try to explore all kinds of options for recipes, and the concept of this particular post isn’t about quick and easy, it is around the concept of my last meal on earth. If it is going to be the last thing I ever eat – I want it to be special and comforting. My dad’s dumplings do take more time, but that is why I save them for a special occasion – or my last meal!

  3. I made this tonight for my family w/ young kids and it was the best meal I have cooked in a long while. It was absolutely worth the extra time to make. Easy steps, simple ingredients, I used butter instead of shortening, I didn’t have bacon fat, but had everything else and it was so delicious! We will be eating it through this cold wintery weekend. I even got one kid bathed while the dumplings were simmering, Daddy’s dumplings are our new favorite comfort food. Thanks for sharing.

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