Thursday, March 21, 2013

Step by Step How to Make Homemade Southern Style Chicken and Dumplings

Homemade from scratch, Southern style chicken and dumplings, made from a whole chicken and rolled dumplings, and served here with steamed, buttered carrots, crowder peas and corn muffins.

Homemade Southern Style Chicken and Dumplings

I didn't grow up with what many of you deem to be a classic Southern style rolled dumpling. Mama's chicken and dumplings had fluffy little puffs of biscuit dough floating in them and they were so good. It's the way I made them when I moved on from my parent's house to the house I shared with my husband, and they remain my favorite still today.

Frankly, no two Southerners are likely to agree on how chicken and dumplings should be made anyway, but I know of quite a few other Southerners who quietly admit that they grew up with drop dumplings too. Guess it just all depends on what you grew up with.

We kinda take chicken and dumplings for granted these days, but years ago, it was a meal that was more often served up at special times like Sunday dinner, or when involving the attendance of the pastor, company or for a special occasion, such as a birthday. Today, we can use all sorts of shortcuts that help with throwing it together anytime we want it, but back in the day, it was not as common a meal as it is now, served up simply because we have the taste for it.

Mamas would often send children out for intentional exercise to chase down and deliver to her one of the older hens, usually one that had stopped producing eggs. Have you ever tried to catch a chicken? I have and it is indeed exercise! Fortunately, the adults and very often mama herself, would take care of, well... the hard parts of bringing that chicken to the table. Thank goodness we only have to go to the grocery store and buy our hens and chickens in a cellophane wrapper or bag... minus all that drama.

The slow stewing process of making homemade chicken and dumplings was a perfect way to use those older hens and let's face it... stewing a large chicken in a big stockpot and then adding a filling dumpling could fill a lot of bellies for families that were much larger back then, than they are today.

So yes. This is the real deal, old-fashioned recipe for made-from-scratch, Southern-style chicken and dumplings like our great grandmothers might have made it. Dough, rolled and cut into squares or strips. No cream of chicken soup. No boxes or cans of chicken broth. No whompf biscuits or flour tortilla dumplings or baking mix dumplings. No rotisserie chicken meat or boneless, skinless chicken breasts. No shortcuts. Not that there's anything wrong with a single one of these shortcuts. I've certainly used them all!

I do something a little different with this recipe... imagine that! Rather than the typical stew, I wanted to make a thick and creamy, stark white gravy, something that is somewhat reminiscent of the chicken and dumplings served at the Cracker Barrel restaurant. Now... in all honesty, I can't even tell you the last time I went to Cracker Barrel. The Cajun and I just don't eat out much - heck we barely really even get out all that much. But let's just say this is my vision of it.

By the way, while we Southerners like to think of chicken and dumplings as being our very own, well... it ain't exactly so. It's actually a dish that is eaten in some form in many other areas of the country.

Some folks in the Pennyslvania Dutch area of the U.S. call a similar dish "Pot Pie," or sometimes "Slippery Pot Pie," which is totally different from the chicken pot pie that we Southerners know and love, which, at least for me, must have both a top and bottom pastry crust. If you've ever heard somebody referring to your chicken and dumplings as pot pie, that doesn't mean they are wrong. It just means that for some folks, our chicken and dumplings, is their pot pie, depending on where they or their parents grew up. If you're in the Appalachians, you may know a similar stew with flat dumplings called "Chicken and Slicks," though I think more people learned about that one from a broadcast episode of Cook's Country, from America's Test Kitchen. Interesting little trivia there.

Anyway... this post is a little long, and about to get longer, as it's intended for those of you who have never made a scratch version of chicken and dumplings. I wanted to present a clear, step by step, picture tutorial on how to make my version of creamy, homemade from scratch, Southern style chicken and dumplings. For those of you more experienced in making this dish, but who might want to just try a different method, or if you're just totally bored to tears, just click right here to skip down to the recipe and printable.

Now... let's get cookin' y'all!

To prepare the stock, quarter the chicken and place it into a tall stockpot. Cover with water, plus about an extra inch; add the celery, carrot, onion, parsley, bay leaf and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered, at a steady but low simmer for 1 hour. Do not boil.


Remove chicken and once cool enough to handle, hand pull the meat into large chunks. Don't use your mixer to shred it. You'll want larger pieces for a total of about 4 cups of hand pulled chicken.


Strain the stock into a container, discarding the skin, bones and vegetables. If you have time, cool and refrigerate the stock so the fat will rise to the top as pictured below and then scrap it off. Otherwise, skim off as much of the liquid fat from the top of the stock as you can and reserve two quarts. Cool and refrigerate or freeze any remaining stock for another use.


For the dumplings I use a basic buttermilk biscuit dough mix of all purpose flour and shortening with a few seasonings. I split the dough into two balls, rolling out and adding the first group of dumplings to the bubbling broth. This first batch will help to thicken the broth. While those are cooking, I roll out the second batch of dough to drop.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper.


Add the lard or shortening.


And cut it in to form pebbles. Whenever you see somebody say "until it looks like peas," this is what they mean - where there are little pebbles or pea-like bumps of fat mixed fairly evenly throughout the dough.


Add about half the buttermilk.


Use only enough of the remaining buttermilk so that dough comes together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.


Turn the dough out onto a generously floured surface. The key here is generously floured. You want plenty of bench flour for the dough.


Knead 4 or 5 times, or until dough is smooth and no longer sticky, sprinkling the top with additional flour as needed. Notice - plenty of flour. This is key.


Separate into two dough balls; set one aside.


Roll one ball of the pastry dough out, flip it over.


Continue rolling it very thin, to about 1/8 to 1/4 inch. These have a little leavening in them, so they will puff up some as pictured at the very top of the page, so you need the dough to be rolled quite thin to begin with so your dumplings don't end up too thick.


Cut into desired size shape. Squares, rectangles, whatever you like.


Sprinkle top of dumplings with additional flour and let them rest while you work on the stew.


Start on the stew by melting the butter in a Dutch oven or large pot.


Stir in the flour, a little at a time.


Cook over low heat for 1 minute, or until smooth, stirring constantly. You don't want it to brown like a gumbo roux. This is a very blond roux we're making.


Slowly incorporate the milk, a little at a time.


Cook over medium heat until it begins to thicken and you have what is basically a milk gravy. If you'd rather not have a milk gravy, just skip this step and add in the chicken stock.


Begin adding the 2 quarts of reserved chicken stock, a little at a time, stirring constantly until it's fully incorporated.


Bring mixture to a boil and stir in the chicken base. Taste, add the salt, pepper and garlic powder. The chicken base I use is Better than Bouillon and I love it. It gives a great boost of flavor to soups and stews such as this, and is really worth having on hand, so it's a pantry staple for me. If you don't have that, substitute a little dry bouillon.


Start dropping the dumplings into the bubbling broth. Bring broth back up to a low boil, cover and cook over medium low for 10 minutes.


While that's cooking, roll out and cut the remaining ball of dough. After the first 10 minutes are up, start dropping the next batch of dumplings, gently stir and continue cooking uncovered, gently stirring occasionally, another 10 to 15 minutes, or until dumplings are cooked through and tender.


When dumplings are tender, add the reserved chicken and gently stir in. If you put the chicken in earlier than this, it tends to get tough and dried out - in other words, overcooked. Ain't nobody got time for that! (Sorry, that's become a catch phrase around here for the past year so I couldn't resist the voice in my head.) The chicken is already cooked, so all it needs is a warm through, so adding it in at the end just makes more sense to me.


Cook a little longer, just until chicken is warmed through. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.


Serve immediately with a side of skillet cornbread, corn muffins or biscuits and a side salad or vegetables, such as crowder peas, Southern green beans, creamed corn or buttered carrots and sweet tea.


Since The Cajun and I never finish a whole pot of chicken and dumplings in one sitting, I put the leftovers in a Lock & Lock and pour a little milk over the top, giving it a stir while it's still warm, before storing in the fridge. This helps with it getting too thick but without a big dilution of flavor.

Now... go make some!
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Recipe: Homemade Southern Style Chicken and Dumplings

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 15 min |Cook time: 1 hour 30 min | Yield: About 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

For the Stock:
  • 1 large (4 to 6 pounds) chicken or hen
  • Water to cover
  • 1 whole celery rib with leaves, rinsed and cut into large chunks
  • 1 large carrot, unpeeled, rinsed and cut into large chunks
  • 1 medium onion, unpeeled and quartered
  • 2 sprigs of fresh parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tablespoon of kosher salt
For the Dumplings:
  • 2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon of poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/3 cup of lard or vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup of buttermilk
For the Stew:
  • 6 tablespoons of butter
  • 1/2 cup of all purpose flour
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 2 quarts of the reserved chicken stock
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons of kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder, or to taste, optional
  • 1 tablespoon chicken base (like Better Than Bouillon)
  • 4 cups of the reserved chicken, torn into large pieces
Instructions

To prepare the stock, quarter the chicken and place it into a tall stockpot. Cover with water, plus about an extra inch; add the celery, carrot, onion, parsley, bay leaf and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered, at a steady but low simmer for 1 hour. Do not boil. Remove chicken and once cool enough to handle, hand pull meat into large chunks. You'll want about 4 cups of pulled chicken. Strain stock into a container, discarding the skin, bones and vegetables. Skim off as much fat from the top of the stock as you can; reserve two quarts and refrigerate or freeze remaining stock for another use.

For the dumplings, whisk together the flour, baking powder, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper. Cut in the lard or shortening to form pebbles; add only enough of the buttermilk so that dough comes together and pulls away from the bowl. Turn out onto a generously floured surface and knead 4 or 5 times, sprinkling the top with additional flour as needed,until dough is smooth and no longer sticky. Separate into two dough balls; set one aside.

Roll one ball of the pastry dough very thin, to about 1/8 to 1/4 inch; cut into desired size shape. Sprinkle top of dumplings with additional flour, turn dumplings over and sprinkle the back side with flour. Let rest.

Meanwhile, for the stew, melt the butter in a Dutch oven or large pot, stir in the flour, cook over low heat for 1 minute, or until smooth, stirring constantly. Slowly incorporate the milk, a little at a time, and cook over medium heat until you have a milk gravy. Begin adding the 2 quarts of reserved chicken stock. Bring mixture to a boil and stir in the chicken base. Taste, add the salt, pepper and garlic powder, if using.

Drop dumplings into the bubbling broth. Bring broth back up to a low boil, cover and cook over medium low for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, roll out and cut the remaining ball of dough. Drop the next set of dumplings, gently stir and continue cooking uncovered, stirring occasionally, another 10 to 15 minutes, or until dumplings are cooked through and tender. When dumplings are tender, add the reserved chicken, gently stir, and cook just until chicken is warmed through. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve immediately with a side of skillet cornbread, corn muffins or biscuits and a side salad or vegetables, such as crowder peas, Southern green beanscreamed corn or buttered carrots and sweet tea.

Cook's Notes: I use a pizza wheel to quickly cut the dumplings. Keep in mind other sources of salt in your recipe (bouillion, butter, chicken base, etc.) before adding any additional salt. Add a little, taste and adjust. If you prefer a more soup-like chicken and dumplings, use another quart of chicken stock. May also omit the milk used in the roux. Stew will thicken with refrigeration. Thin with a little milk or chicken broth when reheating.

Source: http://deepsouthdish.com

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Posted by on March 21, 2013
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48 comments:

  1. I make my dumplings like yours, except use sweet milk instead of buttermilk. I also just drop my dumplings back into the boiling stock and let them cook that way. I use a lot of flour too, and I was always told that was the "key" too. So good on a cold day!

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  2. I would never remember to take a picture of each step like this. I get busy cooking and totally forget to take a picture. Amazed!

    Thanks for sharing all the details..

    Linda

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    1. I cook and eat far more than I cook & photograph for that very reason Linda!

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  3. This makes me very homesick! Thank you for a lovely post that brings back happy memories. I think I better get to the grocery store for a chicken!

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    1. Aw, you're welcome!! Enjoy those chicken & dumplings. Even though it's "spring" so many folks are in the chill still. It's dreary & chilly even down here in south Mississippi today - perfect weather for some homemade chicken and dumplings!!

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  4. Looks just like what Mama used to make. We were talking about homemade chicken and dumplings in our women's service group just a couple of weeks ago , and were saying no one takes the time to make them from scratch any more. I haven't made them in years but I do remember that my mama's recipe called for sweet milk and an egg in the dough. Something else was that we did was chill the broth until the fat hardened and then use that in our dough for the fat needed. Waste not want not is still my motto. Love your site.

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    1. Thanks so much Billie! The shortcuts are nice but going the homemade route is always tastier, which is why I wanted to do this post as a tutorial for those that haven't ever made them that way. You know, since I refrigerated my stock I did initially include that you could sub the congealed chicken fat after refrigerating, but I figured not a lot of folks would be willing to prepare the stock ahead, so I took it out. Guess I should have left it!

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  5. I wanted to save this to my Recipe Box but there is not a button attached to this recipe. Can you check on that. This sounds exactly like the chicken and dumpling recipe members of my family make. However, it is not written down anywhere because they just know what to do.

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    1. Hi Amy! I hope it's like what you remember. I'm seeing the blue "Save Recipe" button on my end - should be right under where it says:

      Recipe: Homemade Southern Style Chicken and Dumplings
      ©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
      Prep time: 15 min |Cook time: 1 hour 30 min | Yield: About 4 to 6 servings

      Do you still not see it?

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  6. Makes me wanna run out back and kill a chicken. This sure looks and sounds like those I've had in the past especiallly at potluck suppers, etc. I'm a drop dumplin guy myself but your version looks delicious and definitely sounds like the old fashion scratch version grandma made.

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    1. Thanks Larry! I love chicken. We eat way more chicken than we do beef or pork but I'm pretty grateful we can buy them at the store and not have to chase them down!

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  7. I made this for dinner tonight and My Word... So delicious! I am known by my family for trying new recipe and my hubby and kids begged me, "Please don't lose this recipe!" I used a rotisserie chicken and some stock I made and froze a few weeks ago which made it so, so simple to put everything together. The gravy was silky smooth and dumplings perfectly cooked! I love your recipes because they all taste very familiar, like being at my Meme's house. Thanks for another keeper :)

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    1. You're welcome Sara & thank you so much for taking the time to come back by to let me know your family enjoyed it - I really appreciate that!!

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  8. Thank you Mary! I have always used my great Aunt Sug's buttermilk dumplin' recipe and everyone thinks it is so strange! LOL Now I know I am not alone! I can't wait t add this recipe to my rotation - my husband will be over the moon!

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    1. You're welcome - please let me know what you think! And, if a buttermilk dumplin' is strange to some folks, then I guess we'll just be strange together!! :)

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  9. My husband is from North Carolina and without the buttermilk and milk gravy, they call this chicken and pastry. I can't wait to try this your way! It looks scrumptious and I'm certain my Tar Heel will like it! Thank you for sharing! :)

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  10. Thanks so much for this recipe! I can't wait to try it! I made you fried hand pie recipe and it was great! Love the apples so much that I make them with my homemade gravy and buttermilk biscuits. There a big hit! I use granny Smith apples. Please keep the great deep south recipes coming! XOXO FROM JESSICA

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    1. I'm so glad that you enjoyed the pies Jessica & thank you for taking the time to let me know!!

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  11. Can I freeze this once it is prepared and cooled? Trying to prepare for baby and making things that can be frozen and reheated. Thank you in advance!

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    1. Freeze the stew without dumplings and either make those up fresh or freeze them after you roll them out and cut them. Then when you heat up the stew part of the C&D, you just drop in the frozen dumplings.

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  12. I wanted to know if I could freeze this recipe after cooking and cooling. Trying to prepare for baby. Thank you in advance!

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  13. I am almost done making this right now. It is soooooo goooood!! Thanks for posting it. It is as close to granny's as I can get. Going to serve it with toasted pie crust on top like she used to do. People at church used to get really po'd at her if she didnt bring her dish on Sunday night. Of course I was one of them!

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    1. Oh Michelle, thanks so much for letting me know! I worked really hard on developing this one because I wanted one that was truly from scratch and classic. I'm so thrilled you enjoyed it. Thanks!!

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  14. Another day with Mary, thank you so much for the wonderful recipe! It was fantastic. I have never cooked a whole chicken. I didn't know what to do with the giblets or how to quarter it or if it even mattered but the end result was good. My little one is allergic to dairy, so I omitted the milk from the stew and used soy milk in the dumplings. Picking the chicken is the worst part, but I have enough chicken and stock left over to freeze for another day. I also find it interesting that a whole uncooked chicken costs about the same as a cooked rotisserie if you don't watch for a sale!

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    1. I'm so glad that you enjoyed it! I usually buy my chickens on sale - used to be 49 cents but you're lucky to get them for 79 cents a pound lately. I do still think that you get more bang for the buck with buying a whole raw chicken, because they are generally 4 to 5 pounds, plus the rotisserie chickens are so darned salty here lately. I have no idea what is up with that but it's tough to even eat them lately.

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  15. This is similar to what my mother always made, there were 12 of us, 8 were boys so she always made dishes like this to feel up a crowd. She always used sweet milk though. Now have to add a chicken to the grocery list.

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  16. Just made this from my left over Turkey, yum, do add the better than bullion. It's cool and rainy in Hawaii.... Perfect meal after Thanksgiving and you get that wonderful turkey smell again, thanks much for posting this recipe, pics are great too. Aloha

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  17. I have a question. I just semi-followed your recipe (made the milk gravy the way I've always made biscuits and gravy, and cooked all the dumplings at once for 15ish minutes). I did the latter because i felt the first batch put in the pot would be overcooked, like with pasta. Is it possible for them to be not overcooked? Is that why you can add more 10 minutes later? Thanks!

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    1. They should never be overcooked. The purpose of splitting the batches is because by the time the second batch gets tender, some of the first batch will have broken down and begun to thicken the stew which is what you want!

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  18. Hi, Mary. I made this tonite, not the first time, just havent left a reply b/c I'm a slacker. Just wanted to share my shortcut/ cheater tip. I follow the recipe, well most of it. I always save chicken carcasses & make broth to freeze. So for this I used a rotisserie chicken, my own broth, and Mary B's frozen dumplings. It's really easy & not that time consuming at all. And it's not as messy!! I always use your recipe, but have never made the dumplings b/c me & flour dont get along well :)

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    1. Hi Michelle! I love this scratch recipe when I have the time to dedicate to making it, but I'm all for the shortcut versions too. Thanks for sharing your tips!

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    2. We had it for lunch today, was even better. Employee loved it, sent some home with a friend, hes in heaven right now lol. It's still homemade minus the frozen dumplings & takes extra time, not really if you do laundry or something in between stirring....... I absolutely love your recipe, reminds me of my grandma. I just cant honestly use a can of chicken soup. She would roll over in her grave. Although I have been tempted with your quick recipe, ssshhhh I might just have to try it.

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    3. Oh & since I used "Mary" B's dumplings & your name is Mary, I felt forgiven, just saying...

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    4. Oh Michelle you are too sweet and sshhh... don't tell anybody but I have totally used Mary B's before too! :D

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  19. Don't have to make a stew ,dumplings make their our stew u just cook them in chicken broth and bouliun cubes

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    1. Hi Vanessa! Well... we'll just have to agree to disagree on the way that I like to make my homemade version I guess!! ;) I'm sure though that there are as many versions of it and ways to make it as there are Southern cooks across our South, but this version is the way that I like to make it. Thanks for stopping by though!

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  20. What do most people eat with chicken and dumplings? Corn in the cob sounds good to me ad's maybe English peas. What do you suggest?

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    1. Pretty much any veggie side is good really. Carrots, corn, southern peas, green beans, southern style pintos, whatever you like really! Always some kind of bread - cornbread or corn muffins being most popular, but rolls or biscuits even just plain bread and butter are all good too! In the featured picture I show my chicken & dumplings served with steamed, buttered carrots, southern style crowder peas and corn muffins.

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  21. I am cooking chicken and dumplings right now for my Dad's 75th Birthday. I've got 2 pots done and was looking for a touch up. Your recipe has given me some extra tips. I like the rouge idea and the biscuit tip. I use organic chicken breast so you do get the good fat base-so I use the stock and add milk ,butter, alot of pepper and salt . He can't eat onion I put onion powder and garlic and this and that. Thanks for the tips-I have 2 more pots to go!

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  22. I'm an Alabama gal living in Australia and right now it's COLD! I was in need of some comfort food and I thought of chicken and dumplings. I found your recipe and made it today. I miss The Cracker Barrel dearly but this recipe was the real deal! Thank you so much. It was fantastic! I needn't miss my southern food no mo!

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    1. Hi Felicia and welcome!! Although I've never been there, I know that Australia is beautiful and I'm sure there's some good eatin' there, but I'm so happy you found your way here to make some of our Southern classics. I'm so glad that you enjoyed my version of chicken & dumplings and I hope trying more of these recipes will bring you a tiny piece of home!!

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  23. made this tonight, and I must say, it is awesome!!!!

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  24. I love your detailed instructions, especially the "plenty of flour", and adding dumplings in two batches tips. I've tried different versions of this chicken and dumpling recipe but could never quite duplicate the thicken gravy consistency. I wanted the thicken gravy and ended up cooking the dumplings for a long time, and they got gray and hardened, not white and soft anymore. I tried your recipe and it came out just the way I liked it. Thank you!!!

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    1. You're welcome Amy! I'm so glad that you enjoyed the chicken & dumplings and thanks so much for taking the time to stop back by and let me know!!

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