“Baby, It’s cold outside”. We need some comfort food. Well, it just so happens that I was asked to make some Chicken and Dumplings. Chicken and Dumplings aren’t just a southern dish for me. It is a dish that my Grandfather- Pawpaw, used to make. He died seven years ago during Christmas time. I remember this because I was pregnant with Gabrielle my youngest daughter. He left this earth one month before she came into it.
I used to love being in the kitchen with Pawpaw. He was as southern as they came. His family was from South Carolina. He was a cook in the military. Two things he loved to do was cook and play the guitar. We would sit up late after ‘supper’ and listen to him play, sing and bounce his knee with other family members especially during the holidays. It is a beautiful childhood memory. One song that comes to mind that he used to play is, I’ll Fly Away. He would play that and we would all sing along. I remember when I was around 10 and he had his first heart surgery. I was so worried that something would happen to him. It was my first real experience with what death means. He played a huge role in my life. I loved watching him cook. When I make a Bechemele Sauce, and breath in the milk, butter, and flour that is cooking, it brings me right back t0 my childhood and Pawpaw’s house.
A friend asked me to make some Chicken and Dumplings for a friend of her’s that has pancreatic cancer. Today, when I make this dish, I will not only be working but I will be thinking of my Pawpaw who laughed at life, yelled at life, and lived to the fullest. That apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, ever.
You start by cooking a whole chicken. I put it in a large stock pot of water with onion, fresh thyme, celery, salt and pepper. Cook for about an hour or until the juices in the chicken run clear. When the chicken cools, separate the meat from the bone. Place your meat back in the strained chicken broth. Then begin making your dumplings. You can make them with a pre made biscuit dough or make your own dough. I used a mixture of 2 cups flour, 3 tablespoons butter, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon baking soda, and a cup of milk. Combine your dry ingredients with your butter, then mix in the milk. Roll the dough out and make strips to drop into the broth one at a time. This also makes for a great chicken and rice dish if you would like to add cooked rice to your broth and chicken instead of dumplings. Pawpaw would add a can of Campbell’s Creamy Chicken Soup to his, but I do not. This is very easy, just make sure your broth is seasoned with enough salt and pepper.
Here’s to those that “bless our souls” and keep us warm from the inside out!