This is classic southern comfort food and the wife is an expert at making it the way her granny and my granny cooked it so many years ago.
My wife (MHNBPF) tells me this will make 12 servings (those would be 12 big servings)
Start with a suitable pot, a 6 pound hen (cut up), three sticks of celery, a medium/large onion (halved) and two carrots (scrubbed):
Everything goes into the pot, plus a half Tablespoon of kosher salt, the same amount of black pepper and three quarts of water. The veggies are added to give flavor to the broth and will be removed later, replaced with chopped celery and onion.
This a six pound hen, which will need to be cooked at a low boil with a lid for at least two or three hours to get tender. By this time, the broth will be nice. That is what you want because this dish demands a good broth.
Actually added a chicken cube to provide a little more salt and flavor to the broth after removing the vegetables and chicken parts and tasting for flavor and saltiness.
To keep this shorter, I won't show straining the broth, but you need to strain it and then add 1/2 of an onion and two stalks of celery (chopped) and cook them in the broth until they are soft.
While the chicken is cooling and the vegetables are cooking in the broth you will make the dumplings. You need to remember, pie crust is made with cold water. Dumplings are made with hot broth - as hot as you can stand. You'll need 5 cups of self rising flour, 1/3 cup of shortening and 3 cups of hot chicken broth.
Add the shortening to the flour and mix well.
Add the 3 cups of strained hot broth and mix
Until incorporated as shown here
Then turned out on a floured surface. The wife uses a full sheet pan to keep all under control and the flour mess to a minimum.
You can do it all at once, or in two batches the way she did. After turning it out onto the floured surface, shape it and allow it to rest for a few minutes. Then shape it into a loaf so you can roll it out:
Hopefully the vegetables will be soft by now and the chicken cooled enough to pull from the bones.
You will also need to mix your thickener, which is 3 Tablespoons of self rising flour and 3 Tablespoons of butter
and set aside for later
Back to the dumplings. Roll them out 1/8 inch thick and cut into 2 inch X 3 inch strips or whatever you like.
When the vegetables are soft and the broth is at a full boil,
begin adding the dumplings.
You do not stir the dumplings!!!! Use a spoon to gently push them under the broth surface, but do not stir them as they are easily broken apart until they get done. They will quickly swell and get thicker as you add them. The broth will also begin to cloud up and thicken.
When all have been added, turn heat as low as possible (or off) and cover the pot.
Allow the heat to complete the cooking for 5-10 minutes. After about 5 minutes taste one. You'll know if they are done or if the second five minute rest is needed to complete the cooking. At this point too much heat will burn (scorch) the dumplings, so be careful. Stirring is still a no-no and too much heat will cause them to stick and burn.
When the dumplings are done, check the liquid for thickness. This is a personal preference. Some like the broth thin and some like it thick. The broth is always thick and creamy at our house. To get it that way, we add 1 cup of milk.
and the butter and flour thickener we made earlier:
then very gently stir it in and watch the dish meld into a creamy thick saucy delight. Ready to add the chicken:
and fold gently until it is incorporated
I like lots of black pepper and add a teaspoon or two more of fresh ground black pepper at the very end:
Then ladle a generous serving into a bowl.
Time to enjoy: REHEATING:
Your leftover dumplings will suck up all of the available liquid while stored in the refrigerator (they will not freeze). They will keep a cople of days under refrigeration. To reheat, add some canned chicken broth and microwave.
This post was edited on 9/25 at 9:33 am