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Monday, January 10, 2011

Dana's Chicken & Dumplings

UPDATED October 9, 2011

The best chicken and dumplings I've ever made....
and as of today, my #1 most read blog post!

The last time I made it, I didn't take photos...today I rectified that. 

Also, all of the previous times I've made this - the teen just refused to eat it - saying he didn't like Chicken 'n' Dumplings (I'm pretty sure he never tried it).  Today, however, a rainy October day, he stepped out of his comfort zone and ate THREE bowls full.  He loved it!



One of my favorite long-term friends, Ms. Dana A., entered this recipe into the Blue Plate Special contest where we both used to work...and I feel sure it won (admittedly I've lost track of who won and who didn't)...and it's the only chicken 'n' dumplings I've ever been able to make successfully.  I've tried the drop biscuit method...ended up with a gloopy mess.  Tried a rolled biscuit...too much work.  Even tried using flour tortillas (recommended by one of my previous bosses) and ugh, that was awful.  I don't know WHAT I did wrong, but THIS one is easy and I love making it on a cold day.  Dana's in Colorado these days...and she has plenty of cold days to make this big old pot of goodness.

It's in the coastal 70's here, so I don't make this as much as I did in previous winters...I gotta say...I'm thinking it might not matter if it's not cold...maybe I'll just turn the a/c down a few notches and make a pot.  This looks darn good!!!

The only thing I do differently from Dana's original recipe, is that I add some poultry seasoning to the broth...and usually, I toss in about half an onion, diced.  Makes it taste more like my childhood memory of C&D that way :-) 

So, here it is ...drum roll please... the best chicken and dumplings on the planet IMHO!

DANA'S CHICKEN & DUMPLINGS

2-3 lb. cut-up fryer (I use a whole chicken)
1 15 oz. can Swanson chicken broth
2 T. margarine
4-6 cans cheap biscuits
3/4 cup milk

Boil chicken in 3 qt sauce pan until tender (close to falling off bone).  Replenish water if necessary to make sure water continues to cover chicken while boiling.  If I'm going to veer off from Dana's recipe and use onion, I add it to the boiling water at this time.  I also skim the gunk while the chicken is boiling.

Remove chicken from water and set aside to cool.  Retain cooking fluid in pan.
Add margarine, chicken broth and milk to water and turn burner to medium.  Stir mixture until butter is fairly well melted.  (It is at this point where I add poultry seasoning to the broth - usually about 1 tsp. - I go by smell - I waft the steam towards my nose with my hand and when it "smells right" I know I have just the right amount of poultry seasoning for my family).

Stir after each can of biscuits is torn and added to pot

All the biscuits are in and the dumplings are firming - lid on!

Add biscuits to water by tearing each biscuit into about 4-5 pieces and plopping them into the water.  Stir after adding each can of biscuits.  After adding all the biscuits, turn the burner down to low and place lid on the sauce pan.  While "dumplings" are setting up, pull chicken from the bone and set aside.  Check on dumplings and stir to keep from boiling over or sticking.  Dumplings are ready when they are fairly well formed into firmer clumps...when they are not "sticky" anymore and mixture has thickened considerably.  Dana said she did this by instinct and could not necessarily describe what it looks like.  I know what she means and when you see it, if you are familiar with chicken and dumplings, you too will "just know".  Add chicken to mixture and stir, add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve in bowls.
Ready to add meat to well-formed dumplings - tender and delicious!

There may be a lot of instinct involved in this recipe...but if you are an experienced chicken and dumplings eater, you can make this with no problem.  I like instinctual recipes...it's the way my Mom cooked and it's the way I cook.  I rarely cook a recipe without tweaking it to meet my family's particular tastes.  Sometimes that has slapped back at me and I think "I should have left that recipe alone"...but you know, live and learn.  Cooking is a science for some and and art for others.  I tend towards the middle of that road...I enjoy learning the science behind it all...but when I'm banging pans, dipping spoons, smelling and tasting...it feels more like an art!

Bon Appetit, y'all!

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6 comments:

  1. Good idea on the poultry seasoning! I do actually take the "scum" off the top as well. We do always salt and pepper our individual servings after it is in the bowl. I rarely like lots of salt except on this and french fries!! Mrs. Dana A

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  2. OMG I am so loved by my family because of this recipe ... I made this last night Debbie and my husband and daughter just LOVED LOVED LOVED it. Sam (hubby) had smoked some chickens the weekend before and I used the leftovers, yumm yumm. This is so easy and I will forever be making this especially on cold days like yesterday. I do as you do too, and add things as I think might "kick it up a notch" - to make the "sauce/gravy" a bit thicker I added a can of cream of chicken soup. FYI canned pizza dough (cause I didn't have canned biscuits) works great. THANK YOU!!!! - Ann

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  3. Ann, so glad the family loved it. Ours is always quite thick...did you actually use 6 cans of pizza dough? I find if I don't use the entire 6 cans (I've used as little as 3) the thickening you get from all that biscuit dough results in a thinner soup. It's nippy skippy this morning, so I'm thinking of something warm for tonight!!! LOVE the smoked chicken idea :-)

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  4. No I didn't use 6 cans, lol ... I used two and rather than more dumplings I opted for an alternative to the thickening with the cream of chicken soup. Also I will make the dumplings larger - I cut up the pizza dough into squares but I was very surprised by how much they "blew up" and then shrunk or is that shrank? What I was thrilled about was to prepare something new that my family was ecstatic over. We need to do lunch and share some cooking time - one of my fave things to do - I am so impressed you have a blog ... Thanks again - A

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  5. Ann - lunch and cooking time sound like a good plan :-)

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  6. Your dumplings look so, so perfect. I want to steal them all! ;)
    I can see why this is such a popular post! :)

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