Monday, June 29, 2009

C and D

Saying the letters "C" and "D" in my house will get a big ol' reaction from Jim. It stands for Chicken and Dumplings and Jim claims that it is way up there on his list of favorite meals. Once I discovered his love for C&D I spoke to his mom about the recipe she used and was lucky that she kindly shared this with me.

The first time I made this for Jim he said it was "very good, but not the way my mom makes it." Oh, that hurt just a little...I thought I was making improvements on a stellar recipe by adding in a small bag of frozen vegetables like carrots and peas. Apparently those "improvements" were not appreciated and therefore when I make this for Jim, it is void of all color. This is simply a plain white meal and it still bothers me a little, but I do like to cook Jim a man-pleasin' meal, especially if he claims it to be his favorite.

Listen up my girlfriends - you know who you are... yeah, the one that is engaged and about to get married in Mexico this November. I know you have been trying some of my recipes out. Please note, DO NOT PASS this one will make you look like a super star in the kitchen. I was really shocked at how EASY this recipe is, and I promise your man will think he died and went to heaven when you make him "Homemade Chicken and Dumplings."

Here is what you need to gather: Olive Oil, Onion, Garlic, Chicken, 2 Cans of Cream of Chicken Soup, Salt, White Pepper, 2 Cans Biscuits, Chicken Stock and herbs of your choice (I like using Thyme, Oregano and Bay Leaves.)

Begin by pulling out your big stock pot or dutch oven. I love this lime green dutch oven by Rachel Ray. It's enameled cast iron and works beautifully for C&D. With the heat on medium, I add just enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pot.

Small dice an onion.

Add to the hot olive oil and let it saute on medium until translucent. Towards the end, add in one minced garlic clove.

Next, add enough chicken stock to fill the dutch oven 3/4 full.

Add some herby flavor to the chicken stock with two bay leaves (we will fish them out later.)

I also went out to my herb garden and clipped a sprig of thyme and oregano. Turn the heat up and allow the chicken stock to simmer for a few minutes.

Remove the herbs and add two cans of cream of chicken soup. Stir to combine. I actually reserved the oregano and chopped it up really small and put it back in the soup - I can't stand to have an all white meal so I compromised by adding about a teaspoon of the minced herb back.

Now is also the time to season with salt and pepper. Taste as you go so you don't add too much.

Here is the most brilliant part of this recipe. Purchase two cans of plain biscuits, not the ones with specks of butter in them or the flaky kind. Using a knife or kitchen shears, cut each biscuit in fourths for big dumplings or in eights for smaller dumplings. Your choice.

Once the soup mixture has begun to boil again, start adding the dumplings a little at a time.

The dumplings will really swell, and look like they could just disintegrate, but then they absorb some of the soup, cook a little and go down in size. It takes about 15 minutes for the dumplings to go through this process.

I added the other can and it looks like I have way too many in there, but the are all puffy in this picture and will eventually shrink in size and become firmer little dumplings. I simply use a wooden spoon and stir these around every few minutes and check for doneness along the way.

Now for the "C" in C&D. Jim's mom would boil a chicken until his ankle skin rolls up. There is no WAY I'm doing that, and then pick the meat off the bone? Yuck! Instead I used a couple skinless, boneless chicken breast, rubbed them in olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper, then threw them in a 350 degree oven until cooked through.

I personally like to shred the chicken after it is cooked, but Jim prefers hearty chunks. However you slice or dice it, add the cooked chicken to the soup and turn down the heat to low.

To kick this C&D up a notch, I'm adding 3 tablespoons of white wine. My selection for this recipe is Turnbull Viogner from Napa. It's delicious!!

The last step is to add about 1/4 cup cream.

If you are making this for someone who isn't afraid of some color, I would highly recommend adding vegetables like carrots, peas, mushrooms, celery.

Deb's C&D Recipe:
Using a dutch oven, or a heavy bottomed stock pot boil a chicken till his ankle skin rolls up. Let it cool, Remove the skin and chop up the meat. This is time for restraint if you are like me. Reserve the chicken broth and add water to it. You will want at least half to 3/4 a dutch oven of broth and water.

To the broth add 1 can of cream of chicken soup and 1 can of mushroom soup. Salt, white pepper to taste. I've tried adding other spices like tarragon, but that is up to you. Most C&D recipes are not really spicy.

When the mixture comes to a boil, add the dumplings: 1-2 Cans of biscuits - I don't use the biscuits that have specks of butter added to them or the flaky kind. Just good old fashioned plain biscuits. Cut them into fourths for large dumplings or eights for smaller ones. (I had a friend that floured them, rolled them out and cut them into noodle shapes. But then, that would be C&Ns.) Add them to the boiling soup a little at a time and cook till they are at a consistency that you like. 10-15 minutes. I always just check them for doneness because it is hard to tell.

Add the chicken pieces and heat through. If the mixture is really thick, thin it with milk. This really make them rich. Now here is the secret... You can have them just like this or you can make them richer by adding the following...Use whole milk or half and half depending on how your arteries are feeling that day. At the end, add 2-3 tablespoons of dry white wine.

Mandy's C&D Recipe:
Season 3-4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake in a 350 oven until cooked through. Dice or shred cooked chicken and set aside.

In a dutch oven, heat enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pot - medium heat. Add one diced onion and cook until translucent. Add 1 minced garlic clove and stir until fragrant. Add enough chicken stock to fill the dutch oven 3/4 the way full. Add two bay leaves, a sprig of fresh thyme and a sprig of fresh oregano. (Dried spices could always be substituted.) Bring soup to a boil, let simmer for five minutes. Remove bay leaves and thyme. Remove oregano, chop finely and add back to the soup. Add two cans cream of chicken soup, stir to combine, bring back to a boil. Season to taste with salt and white pepper.

Buy two cans of plain biscuits and cut each biscuit into either four or eight pieces. When soup boils, add pieces of biscuit a little at a time until all are cooked through. About 15 minutes, check for doneness.

Add the chicken pieces to the soup and turn down heat to low. Add three tablespoons of dry white wine and 1/4 cup cream. Stir to combine. Voila! This makes about six average servings, count your man as two servings.

Cracker Barrel Chicken and Dumplings
When I was doing recipe research I came across this copy cat recipe and thought I would share. I think my version and Deb's version is much easier to follow and give similar results but if you wanted to know how to make your own dumplings from scratch, this is a good recipe to follow.

Chicken and Broth

3 quarts water
1 3-4 pound chicken cut up
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 small onion sliced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and quartered
1 bay leaf
4-6 whole parsley leaves
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice


2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons of salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk

1. Bring the water to a boil in a large pot. Add the chicken, 1 teaspoon of salt, onion, celery, garlic, bay leaf, and parsley to the pot. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook the chicken, uncovered, for 2 hours. The liquid will reduce by about one third.

2. When the chicken has cooked, remove it from the pot and set it aside. Strain the stock to remove all the vegetables and floating scum. You only want the stock and the chicken, so toss everything else out.

3. Pour 1 1/2 quarts (6 cups) of the stock back into the pot (keep the leftover stock, if any, for another recipe-it can be frozen). You may also want to use a smaller pot or a large saucepan for this. Add coarsely ground pepper, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and the lemon juice, then reheat the stock over medium heat while preparing the dumplings.

4. For dumplings, combine the flour, baking powder, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, and milk in a medium bowl. Stir well until smooth, then let the dough rest for 5-10 minutes. Roll the dough out onto a floured surface to about a 1/2 inch thickness.

5. Cut the dough into 1/2 inch squares and drop each square into the simmering stock. Use all of the dough. The dumplings will first swell and then slowly shrink as they partially dissolve to thicken the stock into a white gravy. Simmer for 20-30 minutes until thick. Stir often.

6. While the stock is thickening, the chicken will have become cool enough to handle. Tear all the meat from the bones and remove the skin. Cut the chicken meat into bite-size or a little bigger than bite-size pieces and drop them into the pot. Discard the skin and bones. Continue to simmer the chicken and dumplings for another 5-10 minutes, but don't stir too vigorously or the chicken will shred and fall apart. You want big chunks of chicken in the end.

7. When the gravy has reached the desired consistency, ladle four portions onto plates and serve hot. Serve with your choice of steamed vegetables, if desired.


  1. This is so funny because we were just talking about chicken and dumplings this weekend. I've never been a big fan, but was told that it must be because I've never had GOOD C&D. I will admit, this recipe makes my mouth water. And at your recommendation, I will make it for Brad. I'm worried if I don't start doing more cooking, he may back out before November. ha! Jim is lucky man.

  2. I have the most amazing memories of my Great Grandmother and her famous chicken and dumplings. OMG, they were to die for! Thanks for the returned memories. I'm going to have to whip out her recipie and make some C&D for my family.

  3. Your Cand D looks great. My husband was just asking me to make him some last night.


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