When I was a child, trips over the mountains to grandma’s house always started with the words “Call when your close. I’ll put the chicken on.” There is never a time I feel closer to my Appalachian roots than when I am mixing the dumpling dough by hand and rolling it out on my counter.
After a suggestion from a dear friend, I added rosemary to the stock process, and could not be more pleased with the addition. That process of sharing recipes and collaborating epitomizes all that mountain cooking is: edible story-telling. Dishes are meant to evolve and adapt to the people creating them, and this recipe is no different. Beginning with my grandmother, as told to my aunt, then dictated to me, contributed to by a friend, and shared with you.
1 roasting hen
6 c. white flour
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground black pepper
pinch baking soda
2 tbsp. shortening
2 c. buttermilk
2 tbsp. rosemary
1 yellow onion, peeled and quartered
Supplies Needed: Large stock pot, colander, slotted spoon, large mixing bowl, rolling pin, pizza cutter or knife.
Cook Time: 3 hours
Yields: 8-10 servings
1. After rinsing the chicken and removing the giblets, salt and pepper the bird.
2.Place chicken in the bottom of a large stock pot, and fill with water until the bird is just covered.
3. Add in rosemary, onion, and a little additional salt. Set over high heat and bring to boil.
4. Boil for about 1 hour, or until the chicken is fully cooked. While paying mind not to burn yourself, remove the chicken from the pot, and place in a bowl.
5. Using a slotted spoon, remove all pieces of chicken and onion from the pot, leaving the stock to boil.
6. Separate the meat from the chicken bones, disposing of all the bones once you have finished. Set chicken pieces aside.
7. In a large bowl, combine 6 c. of flour, 2 tsp. salt, and a pinch of baking soda. Mix together.
8. Using your hands, crumble in 2 tbsp. shortening. Mix well with your hands.
9. Add in 1/2 c. of buttermilk at a time until the dough reaches the desired consistency. Depending on your altitude and humidity level, you may need to add extra liquid. I usually add in a cup of chicken stock from the stock pot.
10. Careful not to over mix. When the dough looks flaky and is holding together fairly well, stop mixing.
11. Pinch dough in half, and set one aside.
12. Lightly dust your counter top with flour. Using your rolling pin, roll out dough to 1/8″ thickness. Repeat with the other half of the dough.
13. Using a pizza cutter or a knife, cut dough into inch-wide strips. Bring all your dough strips to the stock pot, and pinch sections of the dough into the boiling chicken stock. The dumplings should be about 1 inch wide and 2 inches long.
14. Sprinkle in a little flour to help thicken the stock. I use the leftover flour on my counter.
15. Stir gently, careful not to clump the dumplings, and reduce to simmer. Cook for an additional 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
16. After the broth thickens slightly, add chicken, and salt and pepper to taste.
1. Make the day before you are planning on serving. This dish is even better the next day!
2. If you are short on time, there a few shortcuts you can take: canned chicken stock, frozen chicken breasts, and pre-made dumplings (in the frozen bread section). However, there is no beating homemade chicken stock in the flavor contest!
3. Make this dish for any potential suitors, and you will undoubtedly win their hearts.