This recipe is NOT gluten free. This post contains affiliate links. If you click on the link, and wind up making a purchase, I will receive a commission. Thank you.
For many years I begged my mother to share a southern tradition by writing down her recipes for me, so that when she passed on we wouldn’t lose them. She told me for years that she didn’t have time to write them down, and besides, she wasn’t going to die any time soon. Then in 1998, I was unemployed in the months leading up to Christmas. Mama called me one day in December and asked me if I would have time to make copies of her recipes if she wrote them down. That way, we could make them into a book to give to my siblings for Christmas that year.
Of course, I did have time, and Mama wrote down a few of her recipes. Instead of typing them up, I scanned the pages and printed them out in two sided copies. She picked out a photo of herself from when she was much younger to put on the front of the book. I went to an office supply store and bought a binding machine that used comb binders to put the books together. I made 14 copies of the book. They were by far an instant hit at the Christmas gathering, and got all of us talking about making another book including recipes from all of the women in the family, and a few of the men. Because the book I had made for them was in Mama’s handwriting, no one wanted to actually use it. They wanted to put it away to save. And so the tradition of the Stroud Family Cookbook began.
One of our family’s most loved dishes that our mother made was Chicken and Dumplings.This concoction of stewed chicken and dumplings made from a biscuit like dough was a hearty dish that filled you up, and stretched a chicken enough so that two adults and five growing children could be fed with some to spare.
When my oldest daughter was in college, she often asked for a large container of chicken and dumplings to take back to school with her. We made them together with her stirring the broth while I threw the dumplings in. The two of us standing together in the kitchen making chicken and dumplings is one of my fondest memories of that time.
For the last two years, my neighbor’s teenage daughter, Abbey, has come over every Monday to help me around the house. In the county where we live, there is no school on Mondays. She does things like sweep and mop my living room; vacuum my bedroom; clean out the cat litter boxes; help me fold laundry; take out the trash; and go to the grocery store with me. She helps lift heavy things like kitty litter and cat food. When we get home she brings in the groceries and helps me put them away. On the way to and from the store, we talk about her school work, her friends, what her dreams are for the future. One day on the way to the store we were talking about different foods that we like, and she told me she loves chicken and dumplings but no one else at her house does. I asked her if she would like to learn to make them. She enthusiastically said “YES!”
When we got home from the store, I made a pot of chicken and dumplings while Abbey watched. I cleaned the chicken and cut it half so it would fit in the pot, and covered it with water. I added some chopped onion, celery, and carrots. We let the chicken cook for an hour. At the end of the hour, I took the chicken out of the pot and put it in a large bowl, and put the bowl in the freezer so it could cool enough to handle. While the chicken was cooling, we made the dumplings. Abbey stirred the pot while I added the dumplings one or two at a time. We made making chicken and dumplings a regular part of grocery day for about a month. Then one day, I asked Abbey if she was ready to make them by herself. She was a little bit afraid of messing up, but I told her I would be here to guide her, and she had my Mama’s cookbook. So, she set out to make her first batch of chicken and dumplings.
Abbey’s first batch of chicken and dumplings turned out really good! She was so proud of herself. I was proud too, for being able to pass down the recipe and continue the tradition of cooking this recipe, this time with my “adopted” granddaughter.
- 1 whole chicken, cut in half
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp poultry seasoning
- 3 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, sliced
- 2 cups self rising flour
- 4 Tbs shortening
- 3/4 cup milk
- Cut chicken in half
- Place in a large pot like a dutch oven
- cover chicken with water
- add celery, onion, carrots, and seasonings
- Boil chicken until tender, about an hour.
- Remove chicken from broth and place in a large bowl.
- Place the bowl in the freezer while making dumplings.
- Take chicken out of the freezer and debone it. Cut it in bite size pieces.
- Mix flour and shortening until crumbly.
- Add milk and mix to a soft dough.
- Sprinkle flour on the counter or other surface where you will be working with the dough.
- Flour your hands, and gather up the dough. Pat it into a flattened circle.
- Place the dough on the counter, and roll it out to about 1/4 inch thick.
- Using a knife or a pizza cutter, cut the dough into strips.
- Cut the strips into about one inch squares.
- Heat the chicken broth to boiling.
- Drop the squares of dough into the boiling broth.
- Using a large spoon, have someone gently push the dumplings to the bottom of the pan, creating an opening so that more dumplings can be added to the broth.
- Continue adding until all the dumplings are in the pan.
- Lower the heat to simmer. Cover the pot and let simmer for 3-5 minutes.
- Turn the heat off and leave covered while you debone the chicken.
- Add chicken and gently stir it into the pot. Serve hot.