SOUTHERN STYLE CHICKEN AND DUMPLINGS
1 large fryer chicken (4-5 lbs.), neck and gizzards removed
1 large onion, peeled and cut in half
3 carrots, cut into large pieces
3 stalks of celery, cut into large pieces
Kosher salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
3 cups cake flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
4 1/2 tbsp. shortening*
1 cup milk
*I imagine you could use butter, but I haven’t tried it. I’ve never been a fan of shortening, but I stuck to the recipe because I didn’t want to mess with its “right”-ness. You know Cracker Barrel and Southern grandmas aren’t afraid of using shortening.
Place the chicken, onions, carrots, and celery in a large stock pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat so water maintains a gentle simmer. Cook chicken for 1 hour or until cooked through (about 165 degrees). While the chicken is cooking you can skip to Step 4 and start making the dumplings or you can wait until the chicken is fully cooked.
Once chicken is done, remove from the broth and let cool. Remove chicken from the bone (this shouldn’t be hard, it should be falling off pretty easily at this point) and shred into medium-sized pieces, discarding bones and skin.
Pour the chicken broth through a fine mesh sieve lined with cheese cloth (I improvised and used a coffee filter), discarding vegetables. Reserve 6 cups of the broth for the dumplings. Refrigerate or freeze the rest to use in for another recipe. It’s much more flavorful than the chicken broth you buy at the grocery store.
Mix flour, baking soda, and salt together in bowl. Cut shortening into flour mixture with your fingertips until it resembles small peas.
Add milk — 1/4 cup at a time, you may not need a full cup — and stir until a ball of dough just begins to form, being careful not to over-mix.
Roll out the dough onto floured surface that you don’t mind cutting on. Roll about 1/4 inch thick. Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut dough into rectangles about 1 inch wide by 3 inches long. Place strips on wax paper and allow to harden up a bit, at least 30 minutes or up to several hours.
In a large pot or dutch oven over medium-low heat (depending on your stove, you may need to increase the temp slightly), bring broth to a gentle simmer and drop in dumplings. Cover and allow to cook for 7-10 minutes.
Reduce heat to low and add chicken. Allow to cook until thickened, about 20 to 30 minutes (or longer, depending on your stove or if you want a thicker broth). Season generously with salt and pepper.