Fluffy, Chewy, Fruity and Stuffed

When I was a kid, there were two kinds of dumplings.  I mean, I am sure there were many, many kinds of dumplings then, as there are now, but in my family, there were only two.  And both went with chicken.

Chicken N Dumplin’s came two ways.  One, with fluffy, cloud like dumplings, was made with drop-biscuit dough, dropped by the spoon-full into simmering chicken soup.  They floated to the top–super light, fluffy, and apparently everyone’s favorite.  Well, everyone except for my Pop and I.  I am not sure what force of nature or magic caused some of the fluffy dumplings to become dense little “sinkers”, but those were the ones we loved.  Yep—my grandfather and I fought over them, and there were never, ever enough.

The other type was the thick, toothsome, roll and cut variety.  Dense and slightly chewy, these were the kind we loved, my Pop and I.  And alas, I only remember them being served a handful of times.  Dang the “majority rules” rule.  Mind you, they both taste the same, but mouth feel is important to some people—curiously not all people—and I like mine with more interesting texture.  I like to chew.  If I ever find myself without teeth, I will be very unhappy indeed.

Of course, growing up and experimenting with other foods and other cultures, I have since developed a love of many, many types of dumplings.  Most cultures have them, in some form or fashion, and I have yet to find one I don’t like.

Asian Varieties:  okay, the Asian’s produce two things more than any other people on the planet—Engineers and dumplings.  And my world is much improved for both of them.  They have wontons—which simmered in soup become dumplings.  There are a myriad of meat and vegetable filled dumplings—pork, shrimp, veggie—steamed or pan-fried, as well as sweet ones filled with bean pastes, fruit curds, custards.  And the king of them all—the soup dumpling.  Yes, a dumpling that is actually filled with broth-y soup.  It sounds implausible, to get soup inside a soft steamed dumpling, but really it is a clever parlor trick.  I’ll share some recipes for soup dumplings in a later post.   Because my Asian favorites deserve their own post.

Italian Varities:  Ravioli, tortellini, and other filled pasta pockets are considered dumplings.  Really, they are quite similar to their Asian cousins in terms of structure—after all, Marco Polo is alleged to have brought pasta to Italy when he returned from his Asian travels.  The Italians embraced it, and made it their own utilizing the ingredients found in their country.  Then there is gnocchi.  If you haven’t had gnocchi, get thee to a Tratorria and order some.  STAT! Gnocchi are little dense dumplings, similar to the “sinkers” I loved in my youth.  The first time I tried them, I almost cried.  That’s no lie.  They are often made with mashed-potato based dough, but more and more are being recreated using things like pumpkin (my favorite) and sweet potato.  They are small, about the size of a large grape, with a texture that is both light and dense at the same time, and very satisfying.  I am not a vegetarian, but when I order gnocchi, I am fine with no meat…just a simple browned butter sauce is all I need with these exquisite little bites of dumpling heaven.  If you haven’t seen my recipe for Pumpkin Gnocchi, check it out here:  https://texanaskitchen.com/2011/11/01/pumpkins-punkins-and-the-root-beer-house/  They are also great for dessert, served with a butter sauce and topped with cinnamon sugar.

Russian/Polish Pierogi:  both Russian and Polish cuisines frequent the use of Pierogi.  Pierogi can best be likened to ravioli, but filled with mashed potato, with or without cheese.  They are served simply, with a butter sauce, and frequently with sour cream and carmelized onions on the side.  Sublime and comforting.

German Spaetzle:  this noodle is really more of a dumpling.  A heavy sort of dough, cut into small bits and served alongside German dishes like Sauerbraten.  Like the gnocchi and the roll-and-cut dumplings of my youth, the spaetzle has that great, toothsome texture that I love.

Jewish Matzo Balls:  Matzo Ball Soup is also called Jewish penicillin, as it is sworn to make you feel better when you are sick.  If you like fluffy style dumplings, you should love matzo balls–similar in texture, but a different and delicious flavor.

British/Irish Varieties: not only are the savory dumplings popular, cooked with meat or stews and soups, but also the fruit filled variety.  Apple dumplings are pastry dough wrapped around spiced apples, and baked or steamed in the sweetened, syrupy juice of the fruit.

Mexican:  Chochoyotes are a dumpling made with corn masa, and may be simmered into soup, or even cooked with fruit and baking spices to make a dessert.

American:  Native Americans were making dumplings long before American housewives started filling bellies with them.  They made the simple roll-and-cut variety, and simmered them in the fruit and juice of muscadine grapes.  Then the Europeans brought their fruit filled and their -savory dumplings with them, and we now have Apple Dumplings and Chicken N Dumplings.

Chicken N Dumplings is a southern staple, and favored comfort food across the south.  It is even used as a term of endearment towards someone we are fond of.  “Dumplin’…that shore is a darlin’ outfit…”

Chicken and Dumplings, A Bunch of Ways

  • 1 whole stewing chicken, or 4 large chicken breasts
  • ½ cup chicken base (or low sodium bouillon, if not available)
  • 8 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 small white onion, sliced
  • 4 large carrots, sliced (optional)
  • 3 teaspoons finely ground black pepper
  • Salt to taste (may vary based on your choice of chicken base or bouillon)

In a large stock pot, place chicken, chicken base, celery, onion and carrot. Cover with one gallon of water.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and simmer until chicken is tender and falling off the bone.  Remove chicken to a platter to cool.  Skim the surface of any chicken foam, or loose pieces.  Into the simmering broth, drop your choice of dumpling, and cook as directed below.  While dumplings cook, shred the chicken.  When dumplings are fully cooked, add chicken back to pot, heat through, add pepper, and salt if needed, and serve.

Chicken N Dumplin’s, Fluffy Style

Fluffy Dumplings

  • 3 cups Biscuit and pancake mix
  • 1 cup milk

Mix together to form a sticky dough.  Drop by tablespoons into simmering broth, and cook for 20 minutes.

Chicken N Dumplin’s, Roll and Cut

Roll-and-Cut Dumplings

  • 4 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 ½ cups buttermilk

Combine flour, salt and baking powder in a large bowl.  Make a well in the center, and pour in the butter and buttermilk.  Stir with a fork until the mixture comes together to make a dough.  Place on a floured surface, and roll out to ¼ inch thickness.  Using a sharp knife or pizza wheel, cut into 2 inch squares.  Drop a few at a time into broth, stirring a moment before dropping the next few.  Once all the dumplings are in, cook for 15 minutes…

Other Variations:

Herb Dumplings—add 1 teaspoons of sage, thyme, or poultry seasoning to the dry ingredients when you are making your dough.

Cheater Dumplings—use a can of refrigerator biscuits, cut into fourths.  Add to soup and cook for 20 minutes.

Super-Fast Dumplings—cut a 20 pack of flour tortillas into squares, and add to broth.  Simmer for 20 minutes.

Super-Fast Chicken and Dumplings—use a roasted chicken from your grocer’s deli, and one of the fast dumpling varieties listed here.  You can have supper in 20 minutes.

Doesn’t matter. They’re all good.

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57 Comments on “Fluffy, Chewy, Fruity and Stuffed”

  1. 2012/05/22 at 5:46 pm #

    I am a staunch fan of the “fluffy” kind of dumplings. I make mine with celery seed, and I can think of few things I like as well.

  2. 2012/05/22 at 5:51 pm #

    Oh. Does this bring back memories! My Southern mother makes THE best, fluffy variety chicken ‘n dumplin’s, and when I spoke with her this afternoon that is exactly what she was doing. I do not know how she does it, but the inside of her dumplings kind of melts when you bite into them. Yumm. Sadly, I just learned a year or so ago I have celiac disease so no dumplings for me until I develop a gluten free version that approximates my Mom’s. Thanks for this trip down memory lane!

  3. Barbara
    2012/05/22 at 5:52 pm #

    looks great. i love dumplings but never made them. you say 3 cups bisquit and pancake mix? or is is just 3 cups bisquit or pancake mix? might give this a try. could go for some now. lol thanks.

  4. 2012/05/22 at 6:06 pm #

    Love it! Coming from a chinese background you are spot on, lady! I make chinese dumplings by hand MAYBE twice a years because it’s so much work but I love how u pointed out that there were more than just the savory variety that most people are accustomed to in the form of wontons. My friends call mine meat perogies cause that’s what it reminds them of 😀

    • 2012/05/22 at 8:46 pm #

      Yes..so many yummy Chinese dumplings. So little time..

      • 2012/05/22 at 10:09 pm #

        tons of different variations to it too. I say any ground meat and any veggie will work 😀

  5. 2012/05/22 at 6:27 pm #

    Great post! I too love the chewy versions. The fluffy ones just don’t do it for me. I’m also a texture person. I love orange juice, tangerine etc., but I can’t get past the texture of the actual fruit enough to eat them. 🙂

  6. 2012/05/22 at 6:39 pm #

    You and I grew up in (relatively) the same area, but the only dumplings I knew of — until I was 24 — was the roll and cut. Then, I met my wife, who introduced me to the fluffy ones set atop a simmering soup. Your post brings back some very fond memories for me.

    • 2012/05/22 at 8:48 pm #

      I wonder if the fluffy ones are a more northern staple?

      • 2012/05/22 at 8:52 pm #

        They are the dumplings that my wife new about. In fact, she didn’t care for mine at first. But, I insisted.

  7. 2012/05/22 at 10:24 pm #

    I so agree that every culture has a form of dumpling, and I have yet to meet one that I didn’t like. I have so many varieties of “dumplings” that I make (mostly Asian or Italian), but have yet to try out a traditional Chicken and Dumplings recipe (although my matzo ball soup might sorta qualify). I look forward to trying your recipe, mostly because I love everything about your blog – particularly your wit and sense of humor (or should I say: sense of life…reality?). and think you have a really fine sense of what food is “supposed to be.”

    • 2012/05/22 at 10:55 pm #

      Matzo ball soup is very, very close to fluffy style chicken and dumplings, but I think the Matzo balls taste better. Texturally, I so love the toothier rolled dumplings. Give them both a shot, in the same pot, and see what you prefer….

  8. Nona
    2012/05/22 at 11:57 pm #

    Oh this is great… it brings back memories of when my folks used to make dumplings… my favorite where the chewy ones also… Thanks for sharing the recipe… it’s just like my parents and grandparents and SO easy…. I will def make this week!

  9. 2012/05/23 at 12:28 pm #

    My mother would make both & I’m all for the roll & cut dumpling. No fluffies for me!

  10. godsbooklover
    2012/05/23 at 9:26 pm #

    I was going to mention matzo balls, but see that Katherine beat me to it. They are the only kind of dumpling I’ve ever made. Funny story, however: when our sons were little, the only “dumplings” they knew of were APPLE dumplings. When #1 son was about 4, we went to Cracker Barrel for the first time. I read him the children’s menu, and when he heard chicken and dumplings…he assumed they were the apple kind. Thrilled (and stunned) that I’d let him order apple dumplings for dinner, he chose that entree immediately. Imagine his chagrin when his meal arrived. To this day he says it was one of the most traumatic events of his life…

    • 2012/05/23 at 10:43 pm #

      I had a similar experience to your son’s when I was about 9…ordering crepes at a Steak And Ale…Never having heard of, and therefor not knowing what crepes were, I read it as “creeps”, and imagined I would get a plate with little tiny creatures, that I could play with rather than eat. Boy, was I surprised when what looked like enchiladas arrived at the table…

  11. 2012/05/23 at 10:33 pm #

    Thanks for stopping by my blog – those dumplings look great!

    • 2012/06/17 at 4:53 pm #

      This is basically my fatviroe recipe EVER. I make it at least once, often twice a month. I actually prefer Morningstar Farms chicken’ over tofu (because I’m the worst vegetarian ever and hate tofu) and I use Bisquick to save time making the dumplings. I like experimenting with additional vegetables too, and found that bell peppers are interesting, but potatoes make it too starchy.

  12. 2012/05/24 at 2:31 am #

    Oooh, this has given me a real craving for gnocci in a gorgonzola sauce…bliss. I had some lush chinese dumplings in Singapore…they were fried and all crunchy on the outside and gooey inside, absolutely gorge (also a big fan of good textures) – got a blog coming up about them actually! Thanks for stopping by my blog, and I’m looking forward to getting home and trying this recipe out!

    • 2012/05/24 at 8:38 am #

      Mmmm. Okay, now I want some if those Singapore dumplings.

  13. 2012/05/24 at 2:04 pm #

    O.k I’m 32 weeks pregnant, it’s 9pm and now I am seriously considering making me some dumplings!

  14. ailenetaggert
    2012/05/24 at 2:08 pm #

    I will try this! My dad loves dumplings 🙂

  15. Fort Bend Food Blog
    2012/05/24 at 4:44 pm #

    Great post about dumplings across cultures — I guess there’s just something inherently pleasing about dough filled with stuff!

  16. 2012/05/24 at 10:21 pm #

    You make me wanna cook!

  17. 2012/05/25 at 3:48 am #

    wow! that looks so yummy. I used to eat dumplings way back my Taiwan years. BTW what kind of biscuit do u use for Fluffy Dumplings? 😉

  18. 2012/05/25 at 9:13 am #

    Mmm roll & cut dumplings. Those are the kind my mother makes and now I make. I add cracked black pepper to them and they are delicious.

  19. 2012/05/25 at 9:57 am #

    I have a family full of foodies and rolled and cut chicken and dumplings are a favorite with everyone. My grandmother and mother made the best. Great comfort food. My grandmother made cornmeal dumplings and dropped them into the turnip greens. They were yummy. I enjoyed reading about all the different varieties.

    • 2012/06/18 at 11:34 am #

      I’m impressed by your writing. Are you a preofssinoal or just very knowledgeable?

  20. 2012/05/25 at 2:20 pm #

    I grew up just a dumpling’s throw from Boerne in Yoakum and chicken and dumplings were a main food group in our family. I proudly come from the refrigerator biscuit clan and to this day they are my favorite. Love reading your blog. I don’t even remember how I found you, but glad I did. I will be back.

    • 2012/05/25 at 2:45 pm #

      Ah, yes…I know Yoakum rather well…Glad you found me!

  21. 2012/05/26 at 2:44 pm #

    I’m all about the fluffy dumplings. That recipe was one of my childhood favorites! Now on the rare occasion that I make them, I add a ton of veggies. Yum!

    • 2012/06/18 at 7:46 am #

      i’m doing well. busy working the new job at apple. that’s ptetry much it. other than that, i can’t eat >33 dumplings in 2 minutes. i like dumplings and all, but that’s not even chewing

  22. 2012/05/27 at 12:15 pm #

    Oh Chrissy, I hate to disagree, but the fluffy ones were the best. There was just something about the fluffly ones that I liked better than than the roll and cut. The ones your granny use to make, just melted in your mouth. I haven’t had chicken and dumplings since the last time your granny made them. Oh, how I miss them.

    • 2012/05/27 at 1:04 pm #

      I’ll have to make you some soon….But I still think you are all crazy! Pop and me are obviously the only ones who knew what real dumplings should taste like!! “D

  23. 2012/05/28 at 9:30 am #

    Put me down for any of those, I’m torn between a few of those varieties 🙂

  24. 2012/05/28 at 7:00 pm #

    We are thrilled to want. Here is the type regular that you should specific and not simply typically the dog falsehoods that is from the various personal blogs. Many thanks for showing this unique very best posting.

    • 2012/05/29 at 11:04 pm #

      I had to approve this comment! If anyone can tell me WTF it means, I’ll give you credit on an upcoming post. I am going to start a new page wherein I post these ridiculous spam comments, and invite everyone to offer up their own interpretations….

  25. 2012/05/29 at 12:24 pm #

    Thanks for checking out my blog. Believe it or not, I never had dumplings until I was an adult. I love all kinds, but have never seen soup dumplings. I’ll be looking for that post!

  26. 2012/05/29 at 12:26 pm #

    Thanks for checking out my blog. Believe it or not, I never had dumplings until I was an adult! I love all kinds, but have never seen soup dumplings. I’ll look for that post.

    • 2012/06/18 at 1:17 am #

      Mmm, my only experiences with dgulpinms have been of the cracker barrel chicken variety…but I haven’t had them since going vegetarian! I think I’d have died for these…may have to tackle homemade vegetarian dgulpinms sometime soon!

  27. Alcor
    2012/06/01 at 11:43 am #

    Ah, we have to thank the Chinese for so many things- stir fry, soy sauce, dumplings. Looking forward to your soup dumpling post.

  28. 2012/06/03 at 5:39 am #

    Delicious! Love your stories too – I’m feeling a dumpling craving coming on now…thanks for stopping by my blog and following, I’m definitely doing the same for you!

  29. 2012/06/04 at 2:42 pm #

    My goodness, that was a mouth watering post! I have never actually tried proper chicken and dumplings (even though I’ve tried most of the other varities you have listed) and now I am determined to find myself some! I don’t know if you convinced me with your preference, but I think I would like the toothsome kind better too. Yum. Also, thanks for stopping by!

  30. 2012/06/04 at 9:45 pm #

    Oh, there’s just nothin better than a good roll and cut~ 🙂

  31. cyprineb
    2012/06/06 at 9:57 am #

    Keeping this one bookmarked for sure. Dumplings are the food of the gods!

  32. 2012/06/11 at 11:13 am #

    I am freezing in my office right now and wishing, just wishing that I had a nice big bowl of steaming chicken and dumplings. Sure, it’s June in Texas…but that’s no reason to ward off soupy, stewy goodness. Thankfully, there’s a restaurant here in Dallas, where I can get my dumpling fix and they are TO DIE FOR! Yay Common Table! I write about my time there here: http://whoscookingforkacey.com/2012/03/17/happy-sickiversary/. Thanks for the warm read…I needed it!

  33. 2012/06/15 at 8:39 am #

    Thank you following teach safety…as you can see I’m on a mission to help keep every child safe….I’m a foodie in my spare time……hope you can think of ways to help my mission while I enjoy your recipes!
    I obviously need all the help I can muster to get the word out to all, if you have any pull in education let me know, as I send out my book to those who think they have,the right person who should,see it!
    Thanks again,
    Melinda

  34. 2012/06/18 at 9:30 am #

    Dag nabbit good stuff you whpieprsnappers!

  35. 2012/07/02 at 2:26 pm #

    Hi Christine,
    I just read through some of your posts and couldn’t stop giggling… I love your style! And I wanted to add another dumpling variety to this post: the Bavarian one. I grew up in a very rural area in Lower Bavaria and could have easily survived on my granny’s bread dumplings and her roast chicken… Those dumplings, or “Knödel”, are made of day-old baguette bread (or rolls) cut into small cubes, warm milk, eggs, salt, pepper and lots of finely chopped parsley. To make them, you roll a lump of dough between your hands until it forms a neat ball about the size of a small apple, make some more with the rest of the dough, and then you let them simmer in salted water for about 20 minutes. They’re typically served with chicken, lots of gravy and a nice salad, or with a mushroom-and-cream-sauce. De-li-cious. Especially the next day (talking about left-overs), cut into little pieces and fried in butter… yum.
    Love from Germany
    Lilly

    • 2012/07/02 at 2:55 pm #

      Those Bavarian dumplings sound like something I would L-O-V-E…..I will try them out! I am actually making some German foods this week, so that will be an ideal accompaniment…

  36. 2012/07/02 at 3:31 pm #

    Oh yes, please do, and let me know if you liked them! There are plenty of recipes floating around the web, this one seems to be quite ok: http://www.noordinaryhomestead.com/original-bavarian-bread-dumplings/ Unfortunately, I don’t really know how to translate 400g into cups, but I hope you’ll find a solution for that. I usually take 2 rolls per person, maybe that helps. And pleeease, for the love of God, use fresh parsley, always… Good luck! Love, L

    • 2012/07/03 at 10:01 am #

      Oh, I don’t even buy dry parsley–or any dried herbs for that matter. Nasty stuff! And yes, I have a handy dandy recipe measurements tool that allows me to go back and forth between metric and standard measures. Thanks for the link!

  37. 2012/07/12 at 10:52 pm #

    I loved the blog….as that northern girl I definately grew up with fluffy dumplings…but I’m with you…my Texan husband makes the BEST chicken and dumplins (yes I spelled it that way on purpose) 🙂 the rolla and cut are the BEST…and I’m usually begging him to make them that way…you know how that darn majority rules thing works.

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