If you ask my sister and me what our favorite childhood foods were, we would without hesitation hand over one dish from each grandmother:
From Nana - creamed potatoes, just dug from the garden
From Memaw - chicken-n-dumplings
Here's our family recipe for the latter. We usually want to save all belly space for dumplings and don't even bother with side dishes. Once I tried to add other spices for flavor and vegetables for color, like Martha Stewart or Emeril Lagasse might do. My mom warned me they wouldn't taste *right*. If you're looking for something colorful or fancy, don't make this meal.
We almost always double the recipe, but here are the original amounts for a pot that should feed 4-6:
1 young whole chicken, giblets and such removed
salt and pepper to taste
optional dash of poultry seasoning
2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
4 TBS shortening
butter - room temperature
If you divide the task into 2 days, it will be easier and you'll be able to defat the broth after it congeals overnight.
Put the chicken in a large pot of water with salt and pepper (and poultry seasoning) and put it on the stove. You're goal is to end up with 4-6 cups of broth, but for now, just cover that chicken with water. Turn heat to medium low and simmer for a few hours. Or do it in the crockpot. Put the pot, chicken, broth and all into the fridge.
1. Remove chicken & broth from fridge and scrape off top layer of fat. At this point you could use this fat in place of shortening if you wanted to.
2. Pull the chicken out of the pot, letting the broth drip back into the pot before placing the chicken on a large plate. Just leave it sitting there while you do the dumplings. Put the broth on the stove to simmer.
3. Make the Dumplings by mixing the flour, salt, and baking powder and then cutting in the shortening. Add water and mix by hand only as much as you have to in order to make it come together.
4. Role out the dough to about 1/4 inch thickness. Spread it with butter. Cut into little rectangles.
5. Drop dumplings into the pot of boiling broth. I sometimes have to make a little space in the middle to keep dropping them, depending on how much room is there. You should have used a pretty large pot. Strongly simmer them (not just a few bubbles floating to the surface every few seconds... no, a simmer that is just short of a boil) for 20 minutes.
6. Debone the chicken into bite sized pieces while the dumplings simmer. We only use half of it for the dumplings and save the other half to make chicken enchiladas.
7. Add milk, as much as you prefer, salt and pepper to taste.
8. Add chicken. Simmer 5-10 minutes more. If you're patient and want them to thicken a little, turn the heat off and let them sit for 15 minutes.
9. Thank God for the chance to have a new generation join in dumpling making and enjoy!
By the way, I still call my mom in the middle of making these to ask her a detail I can't remember, so ask away if you need clarification!
What favorite meals do you make those first few weeks after Pascha?