I've been thinking about my great-grandmother a lot lately. Grandma Sis, as we called her, was the best cook I've ever known. I don't expect to ever find pot roast, chicken & dumplings or banana pudding that tops hers. She was a simple woman who never had much; in fact she had a very hard life, but she was the most content woman I've ever met. During the last year of her life, she lived with us for a few months. One day I made her a custard pie, her favorite dessert, and her comments on how well it turned out is still one of my best memories. I'm so glad she was able to spend that time with us.
Today I'm trying to duplicate her chicken & dumplings. The recipe is simple & the dumplings turn out light & fluffy, just like little pillows. I know she's in Heaven smiling down on me, saying, "Good Job Tonja" (as she called me).
Chicken & Dumplings
1 chicken, cut into pieces
2 additional chicken breasts
1 medium onion, cut into quarters
4 large carrots, cut into large pieces
5 celery stalks, cut into large pieces
4 bay leaves
1 cup self-rising flour (I prefer Hudson Cream brand)
1/2 cup buttermilk
Place chicken in large stock pot. Add vegetables, bay leaves & salt/pepper. Cover with water. Boil until chicken is falling off the bones, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Allow to cool. Remove chicken & vegetables from pan. Drain broth into bowl, lining colander with paper towel or cheesecloth, so only broth goes into bowl. Pour broth back into stock pan.
Discard vegetables & bayleaf. Shred chicken into pieces & return to stock pot.
For dumplings, bring stock pot to a rolling boil. Mix flour & buttermilk until moistened. Drop by tablespoon into the boiling broth. Cover tightly. Return to the boil. Reduce heat without lifting cover and simmer about 15 minutes.
Tonia's Notes - Some people reserve a little broth to make a roux to thicken the stock at the end. I don't do this because the dumplings give the same effect. Also, I use the additional chicken breasts because we prefer mostly white meat & use the dark meat only to flavor the stock.