You're going to love this blog post. You're going to get a THREE FOR ONE deal! A table setting post, a recipe for homemade chicken and dumplings and an added bonus a recipe for vanilla custard!
The friend who made these lovely chargers for my birthday a few years ago had a birthday himself recently. He always requests the same meal for his birthday: Chicken and Dumplings and Vanilla Custard.
Fall color schemes and table settings are my favorites! Here's the run down on the items used on this Fall Birthday Meal table:
The tablecloth is from Kohl's. I've had the table runner for such a long time I can't remember where it originated.
The place mats/napkins are from Wal-Mart. The napkin rings are from Bed Bath and Beyond.
The chargers, as mentioned above, are handcrafted by my friend from a tree from his property. They are truly one-of-a-kind. He also made the coasters AND the serving piece underneath the dumpling pot!
The silverware was purchased at World Market. The plates, bowls, and glasses are Fiestaware. The antique glass pitcher was purchased in Tennessee at a yard sale!
I love to mix and match the Fall colored Fiestaware plates and bowls to mimic the autumn leaves.
I still can't believe I pieced together this arrangement a few years ago. I never thought that was a skill I had in my wheelhouse, but maybe it is?
Now to the food! I changed my original recipe up a tad in that I cooked the chicken in the slow cooker on low for 10 hours. The key to delicious dumplings is to have a very rich, flavorful stock for them to cook. Cooking that long with some added bouillon gave me exactly that.
Chicken and Dumplings are a true Southern delicacy and one of my most favorite foods. This is a complete comfort food meal for my family. I hope it becomes one of yours. I doubled my original recipe for this batch because we definitely wanted leftovers. Feel free to reduce the ingredients by half if you don't want leftovers, but why would you NOT want leftovers? :)
6 large chicken breasts with enough water to cover completely in a large crock pot or slow cooker, about 4 cups
1 T. dried thyme
a few grinds of black pepper
3 Knorr chicken bouillon cubes
Place the chicken and remaining ingredients in a large slow cooker. Cover and set on low setting for 8 - 10 hours or on high for 5 - 6 hours.
Remove chicken breasts from stock and put on a plate and let cool. When cool enough to handle, shred chicken and reserve while you make the dumplings.
Strain stock into another large Dutch oven (I used a 7 1/2 quart Le Creuset Dutch Oven). Add 8 cups of water and slowly bring to a boil.
Now let's make the dumplings.
4 cups self-rising flour
2 t. poultry seasoning
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cup milk
In a large bowl, combine the flour and poultry seasoning. Add the shortening and with a pastry cutter mix in with the flour until you little pea sized crumbles.
Make a well and slowly add most of the milk and gently stir with a fork until blended into a wet dough. Add the remaining ounce or so of milk and stir. It's going to be a wet, sticky dough.
On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough for a minute or two until no longer sticky. Add a little more flour if you need to. Roll out the dough to a thickness of about 1/8" inch. Carefully cut the dough into small squares and gently add them to the simmering broth.
Once you add the dumplings to the broth, DO NOT STIR them. The fragile dough will disintegrate. Let the broth cook the dumpling as you add the remaining squares. Very carefully jiggle the pot occasionally to bring the hot broth over the top of the dumplings.
Let the dumplings cook for 8 - 10 minutes or so and then carefully add the shredded chicken. Gently stir the dumplings into the pot of dumplings. Taste and salt and pepper. If you wish, you can use white pepper. I always use black pepper because I love to see the little specks of pepper goodness against the white of the dumplings
Please take a few extra minutes and make your own vanilla custard (or pudding)! Forget that the boxed version of pudding even exists. Your family and friends will thank you.
1/2 cup sugar
3 T. cornstarch
1/2 t. salt
4 egg yolks lightly beaten
3 cups whole milk
2 T. butter (NO MARGARINE)
2 t. pure vanilla extract
Whisk egg yolks into milk to thoroughly combine. Bring first 5 ingredients to a boil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly; boil, whisking constantly until thickened.
Remove from heat. Stir in butter and vanilla. Divide into small serving bowls. Enjoy immediately while warm. OR if you prefer, refrigerate until cold. If you refrigerate, place plastic wrap directly against the custard to keep "skin" from forming.