Chicken and Dumplings

As a child I loved my southern Grandma.  She had moved to Texas when my grandfather accepted a job offer with Texas Instruments.  So naturally as a young child I had to distinguish between my two Grandmas.  So I picked something simple – Grandma Texas.  Every time my Grandma Texas would visit us in Washington, it was a treat to behold.  We loved spending time with our grandma – albeit walking the beach searching for agates or pulling fresh carrots and digging new potatoes from our garden.  Before my grandma would return to Texas, she would always make a pot full of Great Grandma Julia’s chicken and dumplings.  Somehow my grandma was like Santa Clause, working through the night just to leave me with a surprise in the refrigerator.   The heavenly aroma of the chicken, herbs, and dumplings would swell the room and my hunger would overwhelm me.  The dumplings were always so incredibly perfect, moist, and doughy.  I remember fighting back tears because I missed my grandma, but found so much comfort in her homemade chicken and dumplings that it somehow made up for her departure.

Great Grandma Julia’s Chicken and Dumplings

Chicken Soup Base

1 (5) lb. chicken

Water to just cover the chicken

2 tsp. “Better than Bouillon” – make sure you use chicken stock instead of solely broth, as you’ll have a much richer base.  “Better than Bouillon” (http://www.superiortouch.com/retail/products/better-than-bouillon) has an excellent chicken stock.  It’s readily available at most grocery stores and our local Costco carries it as well.

4 Peeled Carrots, diced

3 Stalks Celery, diced

1 medium Vidalia (or sweet) Onion, diced

Salt

Pepper

Sachet thyme, rosemary (two sprigs each)

Parsley, chopped

Boil the chicken for approximately 60 minutes, until tender.  Remove from heat, let cool.  Remove chicken from the carcass, discard the carcass, and chop the chicken.  With a strainer, skim off any fat that has accumulated from the large pot of broth.  Bring the broth back to a boil, add 2 tsp. “Better than Bouillon.”  Let the bouillon paste dissolve.  Then add  the chicken back to the pot, add carrots, celery, onion, salt and pepper (to taste), and the sachet of thyme and rosemary. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for approximately 15 minutes.  Follow the dumpling recipe listed below.  When the soup and dumplings are finished cooking, remove the sachet, and add the parsley as a garnish.

Dumplings

1 cup flour

1/2 tsp. salt

2 eggs, beaten

Half and Half or Whole Milk

Mix until sticky, but not too runny (if too runny, add a little more flour).  Bring chicken stock to a medium boil.  Drop in 1 spoonful of dough at a time.  Cover, but crack the lid so the broth can breathe.  Cook for approximately 20 minutes.

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