Granny’s Chicken and Dumplings
Growing up, my Granny Conn’s chicken and dumplings were my favorite dish. She always asked what I wanted for my birthday dinner, and that was the answer I gave her every time. I became a vegetarian at the age of fifteen and missed about three years’ worth of chicken and dumplings that I could have had just about anytime I wanted. After that, I moved away and didn’t have sense enough to visit as much as I could have — as much as I would long to, once she was gone. But now, my chicken and dumplings are my children’s favorite dish, the one they request for their birthday dinner. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what makes it so special and finally, I’ve begun to understand the recipe.
Making chicken and dumplings is, like most country food, both simple and complex. I’ve gotten it down to a science, though, and I know Granny would want me to share it with you.
- Get you a good chicken. You probably don’t have them running around the back yard like Granny did, and even if you do, you might not be ready to wring one’s neck just because one of the kids is hungry and it’s her birthday. That’s alright — you can buy a whole chicken or some chicken thighs or in a pinch, you could just cut up a rotisserie chicken that somebody in a grocery store cooked and throw it in at the end. There’s a lot of different ways to get some chicken into a pot, and my granny wouldn’t have judged you for whichever way you got it there.
- Sauté some onions in butter. That’s the same as frying onions, but margarine is not the same as butter, so be sure you stick to the recipe here. You’re going to want to use plenty of onions and plenty of butter because they’re both so flavorful, and even though you might not have liked onions as a kid, they’ll get nice and soft and you won’t even notice them.
- Throw in some celery just because you know it’s better to eat more vegetables than not. Add some carrots, too, and fret a little about how to get the carrots soft enough since you probably should cook them separately. But it’ll be alright — turns out everything’s going to get plenty soft.
- Mince you up some garlic and add it toward the end of this frying part. Granny never had garlic, but you understand how good it…