Growing up in Ohio, Sunday dinner meant one thing to me: Granny's Chicken & Dumplings, a warm and hearty stew made of the simplest ingredients of flour, chicken, salt and pepper. A staple in the Midwest and South, chicken and dumplings is about as comforting as a comfort food can get. It seems to be something born of hard times, when only the bare necessities were on-hand to make a meal for a crowd.
As a child, I watched my grandmother roll out dumpling and make quick work of cutting out dumplings into little bite-sized squares. Her knife skills would put even the Top Chef Masters to shame. I often helped knead the dough, standing on a chair to put my whole body into the process of shaping and rolling the dough into a ball, then using a rolling pin to flatten it out. Granny coached me through it, making sure my dumplings were not too lumpy or too thick. Making dumplings was better than play-doh for keeping little hands busy.
Granny didn't use a recipe, so for the longest time I had only a vague idea of how to make chicken and dumplings. My mother showed me how to make it, using the "eyeball it and throw things in until it tastes right" method. My brother Mike is a chef, and he coached me through turning it into a real recipe a few years ago. The recipe that follows is an approximation of what you need to make Chicken & Dumplings, just like Granny used to make. The original recipe only uses salt and pepper for seasoning. I've added some chicken stock base and herbs for extra flavor.
12 c water
3 bone-in chicken breasts
2 sprigs fresh thyme (optional)
2-3 leaves of fresh sage (optional)
1 packet Knorr Homestyle Condensed Chicken Stock (optional)
Salt & Pepper to taste
6 c + 1 c Gold Medal Self-Rising Flour
1 c water
1 t dried sage (optional)
1 t dried thyme (optional)
1 T salt
1 T black pepper