When my Mamaw Askew was alive, she always made chicken and dumplings for my birthday supper. And hers were definitely the best I've ever tasted.
So I started hanging out in the kitchen with her when she made them, pencil and paper in hand, taking notes while she cooked. It went a little something like this:
Mamaw - "Oh, my broth seems kind of thin. I think I'll add a little milk to it. Hand me that empty cream of chicken soup can, Lana."
Lana - "Here you go. Are you putting milk in the can?"
Mamaw - "Yes. It just needs a little and I don't want to get a measuring cup dirty."
Lana - "Well, how do you know how much milk to add?"
Mamaw - "Oh, you can just tell. Add a little and stir it around and when the thickness looks right to you, it is."
Lana - "Can you just guess about how much it was so I can write it down?"
Mamaw - "Well, if I tell you an amount, next time we make dumplings, the broth may not be thin and we won't need to add any milk at all so I hate to guess...."
Lana - "uh... ok."
Mamaw - "Now my dumplings look a little pasty. Why don't you get me some more flour?"
Lana - "How much flour are you adding, Mamaw? I really would like to write this down."
Mamaw - "Lana, this really isn't hard at all. You just know when the dumplings feel right."
I think you get the idea.
And no, I have never mastered homemade chicken and dumplings like my Mamaw made. Obviously, I did not inherit the "food just feels right" gene from her.
But I was always more than happy to eat her cooking. When I was a kid, I gave her the official title of "Best Cooker in the World."
My Mamaw passed away about four years ago. She was very sick towards the end of her life and not able to cook. One of the last weekends I spent with her, I got to cook for Mamaw. I got to show her how much I loved her in the exact same way that she always showed how much she loved me - through food. This is a memory I will always treasure.
In honor of Mamaw, I thought I would share a super easy and super yummy recipe with you that my entire family loves. Yes, every single last one of us.
The first time I served it, it was happily gobbled up without any complaining. I swear I heard angels singing the Halleluia chorus.
It's not Mamaw's recipe but I think of her every time I make it.
Easy Chicken and Dumplings
1 (32 oz) container low-sodium chicken broth
3 cups shredded cooked chicken (about 1 1/2 lbs.)
1 can reduced fat cream of chicken soup
1/4 tsp. poultry seasoning
1 can refrigerated jumbo buttermilk biscuits (Grands)
2 carrots, finely diced
3 celery ribs, finely diced
1. Bring first four ingredients to a boil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high, return to a low boil.
2. Place biscuits on a lightly floured surface. Pat each biscuit to 1/8 inch thickness; cut into 1/2 inch wide strips.
3. Drop strips, one at a time, into boiling broth mixture. Add carrots and celery. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent dumplings from sticking.
4. Serve right away, hug your Mamaw if she's still around, and be grateful for the legacy of family.