All three of my adult kids are excellent cooks. It makes sense because from the time they were babies they hung out in kitchen, either with me or their dad, who’s also a good cook.
First they sat in infant seats on the kitchen counter. Later they grew into toddlers who stood on chairs as they helped roll out cookies or knead dough or stir batter. Later still they cooked unsupervised, everything from breakfast and lunch to dinner and desserts.
No wonder son Joe in the Czech Republic now receives rave reviews from his in-laws when he bakes a Chocolate Cake with Ganache Frosting (Andrea Charroin’s recipe) and from the folks at Joe and Marie’s neighborhood pub when he whips up some Truly Amazing Peanut Butter Cookies (yes, also Andrea’s recipe).
Even so, nothing makes me quite as happy as when my kids request one of my recipes, such as Joe did recently when he asked for my Chicken & Dumplings recipe.
Of course, it’s not really my recipe, but an adaptation of the Farm Journal’s Best-Ever Recipes. (If you ever see one of these cookbooks in a thrift store, buy it.)
Interesting that Joe should request a recipe with dumplings, because dumplings are a staple of many Czech meals. The thing is, Czech dumplings and American dumplings are as different as American beer and Czech beer.
Czech dumplings are more dense, served in thick, uniform slabs.
American dumplings – at least the ones I’m most familiar – are free-formed, more like floating biscuits. Both Czech and American dumplings are often served atop saucy dishes, often with chicken.
My Chicken & Dumplings recipe is a classic comfort food for a crowd. It’s a great way to use up leftover chicken or turkey, and the ideal meal for a cold day. It’s hearty, and I suspect it’s not exactly low-calorie. Oh well, just have a little.
Doni’s Chicken & Dumplings4 lbs. cooked light and dark chicken meat, torn or cut into bite-sized pieces 4 quarts chicken broth (homemade if you have time, otherwise the best store-bought broth, doctored with some onion powder, celery powder, pepper and garlic powder) 2 cups milk (may use low- or non-fat) 2/3 cup flour
In a large pot bring the chicken broth to a rolling boil.
In a large jar combine the milk and flour. Cover with a lid and shake the heck out of it – until it’s smooth and creamy.
Slowly stir the milky liquid into the hot broth over medium heat. Stir constantly so it doesn’t stick. The broth should thicken. Adjust seasonings to your taste.
Add the chicken pieces. At this point you may either keep the mixture hot, or refrigerate it for later. Next, make the dumplings.
Dumplings4 cups all-purpose flour 6 teaspoons baking powder 2 teaspoons kosher salt 1/2 cup cold shortening or butter 2 cups milk (may use low- or non-fat)
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl.
Cut the shortening or butter into the dry ingredients using a pastry blender (or, better yet, your fingertips) until it resembles course cornmeal.
Slowly add the milk to the dry mixture and then use a wood spoon to stir it into a soft dough just enough to incorporate everything. (Careful. Do not over-mix.) At this point you may proceed to the next step and plop the dumpling dough on the hot soup mixture, or you may refrigerate the dumpling dough and prepare everything later.
When you’re ready to introduce the dumpling dough to the hot chicken soup mixture in your biggest wide-mouth pot, drop the wet dough by spoonfuls onto the chicken mixture.
Simmer (med-low heat) uncovered for about 10 minutes.
Now put a lid on the pot and simmer for about another 10 minutes.
Serve immediately. May garnish with fresh chopped parsley.
Makes about 16 servings.
Stand back and bask in the raves.
(Note: Your goal is fluffy, fully cooked dumplings, not gummy, doughy ones. Be aware that because of the baking powder, the dumplings will expand as they simmer in the hot mixture. Plus, the bigger a dumpling, the more cooking time it will need. For this reason, I prefer dotting the liquid with many smaller dumplings rather than just a few big ones. Finally, because this recipe makes a lot, you might need two large pots to allow for more surface space to fit all the dumplings.)