The Perils of Dumplings

I live in the South. A short drive gets me to Graceland, a little longer drive gets me to the Gulf Coast, a little longer and I’m sipping margaritas in Key West. By virtue of that, I’m expected to know how to make certain dishes – among them are fried chicken, a pot of navy beans, cornbread and chicken and dumplings.


My chicken and dumplings is a dense stew of a whole chicken simmered about an hour, picked clean and two batches of MaMe’s biscuits cut into 1×2 inch diamonds. I learned the practice from my mother-in-law in the early 00’s. I knew how to cook. However, you know no wife can cook as good as her husband’s mother. So I tried off and on for 6 months until I finally got ‘the look’. The look on my husband’s face that says I got it just right.


Usually I can get them just right. The shredded chicken, the chunks of dumplings and the thick sauce holding it all together. Usually I get ‘yumms’ and ‘ahhhs’ of appreciation. This weekend, however, was a different story. I’m letting my boys, DangerBoy and Sheepro, into the kitchen and teaching them my tips and tricks in the kitchen. The chicken simmered and bubbled like it should and cooled perfectly. We worked on the biscuits together and cut them into their shapes. Dropping them in was no problem either. They went in the stock as smooth as you like. But for some reason, this time, they disintegrated like a sandcastle at high tide.


DangerBoy: “Mom, are these supposed to do this?”


Me: “A little, honey.” with my back to the stove. Then with sudden interest, “Why?”


DangerBoy: “Just look.”


I turn and the pot is about to boil over looking like boils of cotton. What a mess! No time even for pictures. I grab it and do my best to salvage it. It’s servable and tastes good. But the texture is not. Instead of ‘yumms’ and ‘ahhhs’ of appreciation it’s ‘hmms’. Now I get to figure out what I did wrong for next time.


How do you get your dumplings to stay whole? Let me know here.


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