One of the happy places I go in my mind when I’m feeling sad or overwhelmed is my Grandma Dunn’s kitchen. When I was little we lived just down the holler from her and I was in her kitchen, in her way, daily. She was always in the kitchen and always had something cooking…a pot of beans, a pan of cornbread, a pineapple upside down cake, a kettle of chicken and dumplins. And there were always sides. Lots and lots of sides…fresh tomato slices, crocks of apple butter, fresh green beans, fried potatoes, cole slaw.
Grandma lived on a farm that had been self-sufficient for years. All she needed as an occasional visit from the Watkins man. There was a time every year when we killed her chickens and cleaned them in her kitchen. I hated plucking the chickens. But I did it without too much whining because I knew we would take one of those big fat hens and boil it up for dumplins. I still remember the spewy sound of her pressure cooker ticking away on the stove. The sound of love.
Then we would drop the dumplins in the broth and let them simmer while it thickened. I don’t remember sitting down to eat them. But I have vivid memories of making them.
All these years later I’m still making Grandma’s dumplins. The recipe has changed a little over the years. But they are still basically her recipe.
1 whole chicken, cut up (don’t use all breast, dark meat makes better broth)
12 cups water
1 tsp sage
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp salt
3 carrots cleaned and cut into one inch chunks
1 small onion
Put all ingredients into a large pot and bring to a boil. Skim foam off the top. Cover and reduce heat to simmer for an hour or two. Strain broth. Remove chicken to cool. Set aside one cup of broth to cool. Return remaining broth to pan. Add water if necessary to make 10 cups of broth. Pull chicken from bones and shred or chop into bite-size pieces. Set aside. To broth, add
1 packet of Swanson’s Flavor Boost (Chicken flavor).
Turn down heat to a very low simmer. Make dumplins.
1 cup broth from pot
2.5 cups of self-rising flour (extra for board)
When broth is cool, add eggs and mix thoroughly. Stir in flour. It will be sticky but should hold together. Turn out onto a floured surface. I use my trusty Tupperware rolling mat. Knead a few times, adding in flour to make a soft disk. Roll dough out to a 24 by 24 inch square (I use the whole area with measuring marks on the mat). With a knife or pizza cutter cut into two-inch strips. Then cut strips into one inch rectangles. I use a pastry scraper to cut them and scoop them into the broth a few at a time. Stir gently as you drop them into the broth. Stir half of the chicken back into the pot (save the rest for another recipe). Simmer for 10 minutes. Serves 8.