Chicken 'N Dumplings Recipe

The special secret to this amazing Chicken 'n Dumplings recipe is to remove the fat from the chicken broth.

Salt Lick Cookbook Cover

"The Salt Lick Cookbook" contains an array of closely guarded family recipes that until now have never been shared.

Cover Courtesy The Salt Lick Press

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In Texas and throughout the South, myriad barbecue joints claim the title of “best barbecue.” Many barbecue enthusiasts would nearly fight to the death to defend their favorite, and the Salt Lick is certainly a contender. But Salt Lick owner Scott Roberts doesn’t care about that. He’s more interested in the smiles on his customers’ faces as they leave the restaurant. With more than 600,000 customers served each year, he may be onto something. The Salt Lick Cookbook (The Salt Lick Press, 2012) is not a book just about Salt Lick barbecue. It’s about how the barbecue came to be: a story of respect for the land, its history, and the family that planted its roots in Driftwood and cultivated a well-deserved reputation. The excerpt below comes from chapter 3, “Hisako’s House.”   

More from The Salt Lick Cookbook:

Smoked Brisket Burger Recipe 

Roxie’s Chicken ‘N Dumplings Recipe

Both Roxie and my mother made amazing Chicken ’n Dumplings. But my first experience with the dish was from my mom’s recipe, which had really fluffy dumplings. Roxie’s dumplings were more flat and dense. They were good, but they didn’t look right to me. I’ll never forget the look on her face when I told her she was making her dumplings wrong. Thinking back now, I’m lucky I ever had Sunday dinner at her house again.

Though their recipes were different, they did share the same secret, which is to start the day before so that you can remove the fat. In the South? Remove the fat? Yes, it is heresy, but it is true. Chicken and dumplings is just a better dish without the fat.

1 whole chicken (about 3 pounds)
1 onion, chopped
8 cups water
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

Dumplings:    
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup ice water
3/4 cup chilled butter, cut in pieces

In large pot over high heat, place chicken, onion, and water. Add more water to cover chicken if necessary. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 2 hours, or until meat falls off bone. Strain the broth, reserving the chicken. Return broth to pan, and refrigerate overnight. After chicken cools, remove meat from bone. discard skin and bones. Cover chicken and refrigerate.

When ready to prepare the dish (after at least 1 day), skim solidified fat from broth and discard. Bring broth to a boil. Add garlic powder, pepper, salt, and chicken meat to boiling broth, and return it to a simmer.

For dumplings, combine flour, pepper and butter in a mound in mixing bowl. Drizzle a small amount of water into center of flour. Using fingers, gradually incorporate the water into the flour mixture. Knead dough and form a ball. Roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness and cut into 1-inch pieces. Let rest. Cut pieces of dough in half and drop into simmering soup until all have been added. Turn broth in a circular motion so that dumplings submerge and cook. Do not stir. Cook until dumplings float, 3 to 4 minutes. Ladle chicken, gravy, and dumplings into warm bowls and serve.

This excerpt has been reprinted with permission from 
The Salt Lick Cookbook: A Story of Land, Family, and Love, published by The Salt Lick Press, 2012.