My Grandma Georgia was a fabulous cook. I’m sad that I didn’t become interested in cooking until after she had passed away. She could have taught me some amazing stuff. I love thinking about her every time I make a mistake in the kitchen. On one of her first dates with my grandpa, she made him dinner, complete with an apple pie for dessert. She must have been too full for pie, but she gave a healthy slice to my grandpa. The next day, she took one bite of the pie and spit it back out. She had accidentally used cayenne pepper instead of cinnamon. Can you believe he ate the whole slice? Whenever she told that story, she always exclaimed about how he never said anything. He must have really liked her! So whenever a recipe blows up in my face I always think to myself, well, at least I didn’t put cayenne pepper in the apple pie. It’s also encouraging that by the time she was my grandmother she wasn’t making mistakes like that…maybe someday I won’t either (maybe).
My favorite recipe that grandma made (besides her blackberry pie and fresh grape juice and chicken continental and and and) was chicken and dumplings. It is like the ultimate comfort food for me. Sadly, I don’t have her original recipe, but this one from Better Homes and Gardens is pretty close.
Chicken and Dumplings
Source: slightly adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook
2 1/2 to 3 pounds meaty chicken pieces, such as breast halves, thighs, or drumsticks (I used breasts because that’s what I had on hand, but next time I think I will use thighs)
3 cups water
1 medium onion, cut into wedges
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried sage or marjoram, crushed
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 cup sliced celery (2 stalks)
1 cup thinly sliced carrot (2 medium)
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms (or just up your celery and carrot a bit)
1/2 cup cold water
1/4 cup four
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons shortening
3/4 cup buttermilk (I always use powdered buttermilk and it works fine)
Skin chicken. In a 4-quart Dutch oven combine chicken, the 3 cups water, onion, salt, sage, pepper, and bay leaf. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered for 25 minutes.
Add celery, carrot, and mushrooms. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, about 10 minutes more or until veggies are tender and chicken is no longer pink. Discard bay leaf. Arrange chicken on top of vegetables.
Prepare dumplings. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles course crumbs. Add buttermilk, stirring just until moistened.
Spoon batter into 9 mounds on top of chicken. (Do no spoon batter into liquid.) Return to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 12 to 15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. With a slotted spoon, transfer chicken, dumplings, and vegetables to a serving platter; keep warm.
For gravy, in a small bowl stir the 1/2 cup cold water into flour. Stir into remaining liquid in the pot. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 1 minute more. Serve gravy over chicken, vegetables, and dumplings.