I've never met a dumpling I didn’t like. But I still remember my first attempt at chicken and dumplings as a young bride wasn’t too great. I put pieces of chicken, pre-cut from the store, in a pot of plain water and boiled it for a long time. I probably added some salt and pepper, but that was about it. When the chicken was done I didn’t debone it, I left it in the pot, skin and all. I then whacked open a can of biscuits and plopped them in with the chicken and cooked them until they turned into big puffy hunks of bread. I was quite proud. My “Mr.” had quite a shock! It turns out there are other ways of making chicken and dumplings that I had never heard of. His mom took the chicken off the bone and rolled out little thin noodle-type dumplings she made from scratch. This was all news to me.
Later on, I would learn the other ways of the world (and of my grandmother), but I still love the biscuit dumplings, and so do my kids; my daughter recently asked me for the recipe. I said, “Honey, those just come out of a can.” She said, “I know, but I need to know just how you do it.” I explained that I pull each piece of biscuit dough into 4 parts, and I’m careful not to cook them too long in the boiling broth; when they rise to the top of the liquid they are just about done. I’m much more experienced now with canned dough, as if it would take experience! And, oh yes, I do debone the chicken now-a-days.
I’ve also tried another quick version that one of my grandmothers taught me. She said to cut prepared flour tortillas into strips and drop them into simmering broth. The first time I tried it I made the mistake of stirring the pot and they broke up and turned to mush. The next time I resisted stirring and they turned out a little better.
Although I love eating the easy dumplings, I’d rather be known for making the “made-from-scratch” kind. Maybe someday I will do justice to this heirloom, scratch recipe belonging to my grandmother. Grandma Lowe was inventive and fun in the kitchen. She was creative and thrifty and made everything taste good – even stale saltine crackers she would re-toast in the oven. She made delicious bread pudding and delectable peanut patties. And thank goodness I learned about her dumplings. I do aspire to be like this sweet, talented lady. Enjoy food made fresh!
Grandma Lowe’s Dumplings
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons shorting
Enough milk to make a soft dough
Mix dry ingredients well and then cut in the shortening. Gradually add milk a little at a time until you form a soft ball, not too sticky. Drop by rounded tablespoons into a pot of simmering chicken broth and cook 15 to 20 minutes on medium heat. Keep covered. Makes 6 servings.