What do you do when you have a fresh batch of chicken stock, some leftover chicken, and three hungry kids? Make chicken and dumplings!
Now, despite my abiding love for it, chicken and dumplings is not a part of my culinary tradition. As with other Southern dishes like shrimp and grits, Brunswick stew, and pulled pork, it's a dish I've made with varying degrees of success over the years. This year, though, I finally decided to just get it right once and for all.
She starts the recipe assuming you've already cooked your chicken in water or broth. (I just put a whole cut-up chicken into a pot with enough colder water to cover by an inch or two. I add in some peppercorns, onion, garlic, and a couple bay leaves that I tie-up into a cheese cloth and huck into the pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a bare simmer, skimming any foam or impurities as needed. Chicken will be cooked through/falling off the bone in about an hour.)
Note: As a short cut I use a chicken carcass from a roast chicken and make the soup/broth ahead of time (I always have a batch in my freezer) and then buy a rotisserie chicken to shred into my chicken and dumplings.
Make your dumplings. These are light and fluffy—sort of a cross between a gnocchi and a noodle.
Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Cut in the shortening. Add the buttermilk, stirring with fork until moistened. Knead the dough 4 to 5 times, and pat to 1/2-inch pieces and drop into boiling broth (I don't pat out, just pinch off pieces -- do same thing with biscuits most of the time). Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for about 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.