Chicken & Dumplings

by Dana Kester-McCabe

As the garden season is winding down we here at the Delmarva Almanac are thinking about food.

Starting in the Fall, straight through Winter and Spring Delmarva's churches, youth groups, and civic organizations really take center stage in our social lives. And during that time each and every one of those groups has more than one pot luck meal or community fundraiser.

When I first moved here the Atlantic Methodist Church in Ocean City had an annual chicken and dumpling dinner. My husband's family were members there and it was suggested that a good way for me to meet some folks would be for the two of us to volunteer and help out in the kitchen. And there was a bonus. This Yankee girl from Philadelphia could learn how to make traditional chicken and dumplings - Eastern Shore slippery style.

I was a little intimidated of course. But a lovely lady named Sarah Jarmon taught me everything I needed to know. She taught me how to pick and shred the chicken and how to make the dough for the fat square noodles called slippery dumplings. I have gone on to develop my own way of making this quintessential Delmarva treat. I like to include leeks and fresh garden herbs like rosemary and thyme to the stock. But every time I make chicken and dumplings - slippery style - I think about Sarah Jarman and all the people who were so kind and welcoming to me when I first moved to Delmarva.

Below is my recipe on our website for you to try. But this story is actually an invitation to you dear listeners. We are looking for stories about your favorite pot luck or community meal experiences, about the people who taught you to make your favorite dishes maybe who taught you something special along the way. If you have a good story to tell contact us at: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

How To Make Chicken & Dumplings
Chicken Options
At a big pot lock the easiest way to make a lot of chicken and dumplings is to buy a broiler chicken for every standard stock pot you have (or 2-3 for every industrial size stock pot). These are then poached in water at a rolling boil for at least 30 minutes. The chickens are removed from the stock and allowed to cool before the meat is pulled from the bones and shredded.

I have found at home that this dish is best made as the second or third meal made from a large roaster chicken. You can also use a small rotisserie chicken from the super market. Either way these give a lot more flavor to the stock. And the bird has cooled by the time you need to handle it. I pick the bones clean and set both them and the meat aside. I only use a knife to cut up the big pieces or scrape the meat from cartilage or tendons. Otherwise I break things in to bit sized shreds.

Chicken Stock Ingredients:
2 table spoons butter or olive oil
One large shallot or a small onion - minced
One large carrot diced
One celery stalk diced
A handful of fresh or dry herbs - sage, rosemary & thyme (just like the song)
One leak stalk - diced (optional)
4-5 Small mushrooms sliced (optional)
1/2 cup dry white wine (optional)
Cooked chicken bones
One teaspoon chicken base or two chicken bouillon cubes
2-3 Dashes of Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

Dumpling Ingredients
One box Annie's premade frozen flat dumplings - or if you have an extra hour before dinner make your own with:
2 cups of all purpose flour
1 cup fresh chicken stock reserved and cooled.

The stock is made just as you would for almost any other chicken soup recipe:
1. After cutting the vegetables sauté the shallots in the butter or olive oil in the bottom of a medium sized sized stock pot. Once they are translucent add rest of the vegetables and herbs.
2. Cook vegetables for 6-8 minutes.
3. (Optional) Add white wine
4. Add chicken bones to the pot cover with water
5. Add chicken base and Worcestershire sauce to the stock
6. Bring to a boil over medium high heat and then lower temperature to medium low allowing to simmer for 30 minutes.
7. Turn temperature down to low and remove the bones. Set these aside and allow them to cool. Usually there is still some meat on the bird that you can easily pull off and add to the stock.

The Dumplings
This is when you make your own dumplings or add the premade dumplings to the stock straight from the freezer (breaking them into individual pieces).

8. Reserve one cup of the stock and allow it to cool about ten minutes.
9. Measure out two cups of flour on to a clean dry counter top or pastry board. Make a well in the middle.
10. Add a few tablespoons of the reserved stock to the flour well and begin mixing them together quickly. Repeat, adding handfuls of flour as needed until you have a dough ball that is no longer sticky and holds its shape.
11. Cover with a clean dish towel and set aside to rest 10 minutes.
12. Put any remaining reserved stock back in the pot.
13. Cut your dough in half.
14. Roll out the first half until it about 1/8 inch thick using a sprinkling of flour to prevent sticking.
15. Using a small paring knife cut the rolled dough into 2 inch wide strips and then into squares. Lay squares on a cake rack.
16. Repeat this process with the second ball of dough.
17. Let dumplings on the racks rest for 10 minutes.
18. Bring stock back to a boil.
19. Add the dumplings to the stock in batches and then add the shredded chicken.
20. Turn down to medium heat and cook for 15 minutes stirring frequently. The dumplings should have expanded and be floating. Add small amounts of water as needed if things get too thick.
21. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

This dish can be made a day ahead and warmed up. In fact there are those in my family who say it is actually better the second day.