For soul-satisfying comfort, nothing equals a fragrant bowl of old-fashioned chicken and dumplings. The making is almost as comforting as the eating, too, as there’s also nothing to equal the rich aroma of chicken slowly simmering its way to perfection.
Dumpling lovers are divided into two camps: those who like and know them biscuit-like (fat, round and fluffy as a down pillow) and those who favor them flat, noodle-like and firm to the bite. The dumplings in this recipe, which are known to Southerners, are the latter. The dough for both kinds is pretty much the same. It’s really just a basic biscuit dough. The difference lies in the way that dough is handled.
For biscuit-like dumplings, the dough needs a correspondingly lighter treatment, only about 10 to 15 of the folds described in the recipe until it is smooth. It’s then rolled it out a little thicker than 1/8-inch, cut into smaller, 1-inch pieces and allowed to sit for a minute or two until the dumplings begin to rise. They’re then gently stirred into the broth, a few at a time.
For the sleek, flat, noodle-like dumplings that many Southerners crave (and sometimes inelegantly but descriptively refer to as “slipperies”), the dough will need at least 15 to 20 folds. It’s then rolled as thin as piecrust, cut into small pieces and cooked at once. It’s a delicate balancing act: if the dough is over-worked, the dumplings will be dense and chewy; if it’s not worked enough, they’ll be insubstantial and won’t hold together.
By Damon Fowler