Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Stewed Chicken & Dumplings

One of my grand children's favorite meals when they come to our
house is my stewed chicken and dumplings.
I learned how to cook this dish from my Great Aunt Julia Baker,
with the help of her niece, my mother.
Anyone can stew a chicken, but what truly makes this dish is the dumplings!

Aunt Julia and Uncle Joe were both from pure Hungarian stock. Each of their parents came straight from Hungary.
They lived on his father's farm and took care of his parents (both of whom never learned English) and worked the farm.

One of my fondest memories of my Great Aunt Julia is her cooking.
She had a knack for making a truly great meal out of leftovers or stretching what she had on hand to feed company.
My Great Uncle Joe was quite an avid hunter and many times the "stewed chicken and dumplings" that she served was made out of canned pheasant or rabbit that he had shot and they had canned and stored.
When our family dropped in for a Sunday visit, one of our favorites was this dish. Mom tried and tried to copy her Auntie’s dumplings but couldn't get her to write down a recipe because she cooked by measuring the ingredients by using her hands and eyes.
One day Mom decided that she was going to learn how once and for all. We loaded up the car with all of the necessary ingredients and threw in some bowls and measuring devices just to make sure there would be enough, then I drove her to Aunt Julia's. We talked Auntie into making them while we switched bowls with her and measured the ingredients and wrote them down.
It took many tries to get it right, but we had a ball, and ate a lot of buttered dumplings.

With a little practice you can make this special treat a part of your family’s meals. And it’s a great meal extender for when extra guests show up for dinner. It’s fast and simple. And it also goes great with chicken, with or without the gravy.

Hungary boasts of having 116 types of dumplings of different tastes and textures and traditional uses. This is just one of them. I wish I could remember the Hungarian name for them, but since I can't I will just call them:

Hungarian Dumplings

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2-3 eggs

Fill a Dutch Oven half full of water and bring to a boil.

Mix dry ingredients, add the eggs and milk, mix well.

Dip a teaspoon into the boiling water

and then scoop out about 1/2 of the teaspoon full of batter

and immerse into the boiling water and gently shake spoon to release batter.

Repeat until batter is gone.

Cook until done (about 3-4 minutes after last dumpling is added)
As you can see the water foams up. If your pan isn't high enough
you may need to turn down the heat.

and remove and drain them.
Rinse with cold water to remove foamy coating.

"VIOLA" (pronounced wa-la')

Dumplings should be chewy inside and slippery outside with an egg noodle flavor. Coat with butter and serve as a side dish.
Or fix them as I do, unbuttered with stewed chicken and gravy.

Now for the rest of the dish.
In another Dutch Oven cover a cut-up chicken with water.
Add salt (less if you use one of them store bought ones with a saline solution already injected in the meat) and pepper. For a little color add some dried parsley.
Cover and bring to a boil and simmer for 1-2 hours or until chicken is just ready to fall off the bones.
Just before the chicken is done is when you make the dumplings. (Do NOT make the batter until the water is at a full boil.)
Remove the chicken.

Add 3-4 heaping teaspoons of corn starch (traditionally use flour, but I like the corn starch better) to 2/3 cup of milk and stir until dissolved. (cooking hint: add a little milk to all gravies to make the oil and water blend better, Oh you want another, ok, add a drop or two of yellow food coloring to enhance the eye appeal of any chicken gravy. What, MORE? Alright, if you need more flavor add some chicken boullion (omit the salt) or boil the chicken in chicken stock instead of water)
Pour into stock while stirring to make a thin gravy. Repeat if necessary.

Serve and add additional salt and pepper to taste.

Now eat until full and then sit back contented and comforted in knowing that you just served a meal full of hundreds of years old tradition.


Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Oh wow! I have been looking for a 'classic' chicken and dumplings recipe the past couple days, and none sounded 'right' to me.
This is THE ONE!


And thank you to Great Aunt Julia Baker and your Mom, too.

I'm making this tomorrow for dinner, my friend :)


Laughing Orca Ranch said...

ps....You've been Ghosted!!
Visit my blog to find out what happens next! :)


farm mom said...

Oh yeah, I remember this meal well. Although I have to admit, I have never made it!! Thanks for sharing dad! I never tire of hearing about Great Aunt Julia. ;) And Aden never tires of those dumplings!! Of course, she's inundated with that hungarian blood from both momma and daddy, so I guess she comes by it naturally! :) So, how does that home-grown chicken taste all stewed up?

frugalmom said...

mmmmmmmm.....looks great. This will be on the menu soon. The kids love I cant wait to have them try this!

GreyWolf said...

Lisa: I told you I had a comfort food recipe for you. And just in time from the sounds of it.

Sadly both my Great Aunt Julia and my Mom are gone, but I am sure they are both looking down from above, pleased that you think so.

"WE" hope you enjoy it as much as we did/do.

"Ghosted"? HMMM, ok, ya hooked me.

Agnes: Ethen does a pretty good job of gobbling them down too!

And the home grown chicken stewed up very well thank you!

Maude: I hope you do fix up a batch dumplings, but I'll warn you ahead of time, if they like them, you will have to make 2 batches. Do not double the batch unless you have a VERY big kettle. Actually, forget it, make 2 batches, one after the other in the same pot.

Country Girl said...

That looks good! I have never made dumplings. I might be back sometime to reference this recipe.

GreyWolf said...

I can't believe you have been depriving your family all these years!!!

Some day when you have a few minutes to spare, fix half a batch of dumpling and melt some butter over them and give it a try.

Staying Alive said...

The Handmaiden fixed your dumpling for me today for a Chicken and Dumpling Sunday dinner. We will be having it again, I assure you. Very good. Brought back some very fond memeories. And the wife had never made dumplings before.

Thank you so much. It has been inspiring.


GreyWolf said...

Staying Alive: So glad that you found the recipe useful. It rotates here about every 2 weeks or so. It's nice to have a few recipes that don't need constant attention but yet are very filling and taste good.