Not My Mama’s Chicken and Dumplings

The restaurant had chicken and dumplings on the menu and it came with a biscuit. It’s been way too long since I’ve had either, so I ordered it.

They served the old-fashioned meal on a trendy rectangular plate. Chunks of chicken with a thick yellow sauce filled the plate. Where are the dumplings? Oh, wait, these flat things must be what they are calling dumplings.

To me, they looked more like thick squarish noodles. The meal was hearty and flavorful, but it wasn’t like my mother’s dumplings.

Back at home, I pulled out my vintage Searchlight Recipe Book, just like the one Mom used all those years. Mine dates back to 1946. I imagine it’s where she found her recipe.

“Select a plump chicken. Dress. Cut in pieces. Place in saucepan. Cover with boiling water. Add 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Cover. Simmer slowly until chicken is tender.”

Here's a fine rooster to make the chicken and dumplings with.

Here’s a fine rooster to make the chicken and dumplings with.

Then it gets to the part about the dumplings. Here’s what you need to make the dumplings:

2 cups flour

2 tablespoons of shortening (Mom always used Crisco)

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt


“Sift flour, measure and sift with salt and baking powder. Cut in shortening with 2 spatulas. Add milk until a thick drop batter is obtained. Drop by teaspoonfuls into boiling broth. Cover. Boil 12 minutes. Serve at once.” 

These dumplings are round, moist and fluffy on the outside and a little dry in the center. You don’t serve them on fancy rectangular plates.

PS – The biscuit at the restaurant was perfect. Mom would have approved of it.


2 thoughts on “Not My Mama’s Chicken and Dumplings

  1. You are describing my Mom’s dumplings to a T! I had some dumplings similar to the ones you were subjected to at the restaurant–and I, too, was disappointed!


  2. I love the old cookbooks that start from scratch with basic ingredients. Your mother was clearly from that school. If you look at an American cookbook from the 50s or 60s you’re much more likely to be told to open a packet or a can of this or that. And yes, as Kathy just commented, the dumplings you describe sound like the ones my mother used to put in her chicken stew–heavenly!


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