My first blog post…. so much pressure. It wouldn’t be MY blog if I didn’t begin with an ode to my Aunt Faye. Unfortunately, she lives in the middle of nowhere and is quite the old-fashioned lady, so she’ll never even know that she’s on the internet! ha! But anyway, if I had to think back to who really had me loving food it would have to be her. If someone asked you who your greatest cooking influence was, most would say “my mom” or “someone on Food Network” or something like that. Not for me – it all began in a small dome-shaped house in Duplin County, North Carolina.
So my Aunt Faye is one of the sweetest, most loveliest people you’d ever meet. And boy can she make a mean Sunday Supper. You see, in the South, the families go to church on Sunday and afterwards they partake in a huge Sunday feast. Sometimes they’ll hit up the ol’ Golden Corral or they’ll swing by the fast food and grab some Bojangles Chicken. In my family they don’t have that – my Aunt Faye cooks up a meal complete with: the best fried chicken you’ve ever tasted, the creamiest cream corn, collard greens (with ham hock of course!), mustard greens (ew!!), green beans, cornbread (another story, another blog), carved ham, made-from-scratch buttermilk biscuits, my gramma’s pound cake (best ever – she even mailed one to Chicago once!), and last but certainly not least – Chicken Pastry. You may wonder, what is Chicken Pastry? Is it dumplings? Well sorta. But we always always always called it Chicken Pastry. Nothing more, nothing less. And it’s THE BEST EVER.
I won’t lie and say that I’ve even made it before. Although it seems fairly simple – but for some reason I’d rather enjoy it during my yearly trip back home. It’s a dish I can’t take for granted and just whip up in Chicago. Is that weird? I just want it back home, tucked away on Hall Road in the dome-shaped house that holds the best Southern food around. And every time I eat it I find myself wanting more, more, more. I generally will have a plate of chicken pastry and then I’ll work on the other stuff, with a little more chicken pastry and a biscuit to sop up the juices. Yum to da tum.
If you’re just dying to know what it is, keep reading for a reasonable recipe to help you get an idea. It’s not complete with Aunt Faye’s love, but it would possibly work in a pinch. The key is buying the right dumplings, and they aren’t sold up here in the midwest. But you can order them – she told me that at Christmas!
Here they are: Anne’s Food Products, http://www.annesdumplings.com. The second I saw their logo I knew I’d found them. Aunt Faye ALWAYS uses Annes and I remember the red and yellow box as if I’d eaten the dish yesterday. Their website is all things Southern and I love it! You’re looking for the Flat Dumplings (see picture).
My Goodness. Just seeing that label makes me wanna head home real quick and have some. I think the popularity among the family is skewed towards me though, so I doubt she’d have them ready, although I know she has a box of Anne’s in the freezer just in case! I took the pictures of Anne’s recipe and here’s what (in general) the dish looks like when it’s cooked:
Their recipe uses “canned chicken” – what is that??! Please don’t use canned chicken. Aunt Faye uses a whole chicken that she cuts up herself. She poaches the chicken in water or chicken stock first. I think the rest of their recipe is fine but for real – use a fresh whole chicken.
Aunt Faye’s Chicken Pastry
Adapted from Anne’s dumplings website; serves 6
This is pretty easy. I think one of the best parts about Aunt Faye’s is that she typically uses her own stock. She’ll cook the chicken with the bones on and then tear it off the bone. She then leaves the bones in the water for a while so that the water is “stock-like” although not your typical chicken stock with mirepoix and what not. Oh, and you have to serve it with a piping hot made from scratch biscuit. If I ever do bring myself to make it here, I’ll post an update. But don’t hold your breath!
1 whole chicken, cut into pieces and poached in water & chicken stock.
2 quarts chicken stock
1/2 stick butter
1 12 oz package of Anne’s Dumplings
salt and pepper (I like lots of pepper)
Cut chicken up, and poach chicken in water/stock and set aside (can be done the day before if needed). Bring stock to boil. Add butter. As broth boils, add 5-7 dumpling strips at a time. Wait for broth to come to a boil before adding more dumplings. Stir gently as you’re adding dumplings. When all dumplings are in pot and boiling, add pre-cooked chicken. Cook 10-12 minutes or until dumplings reach desired tenderness. If broth is too thin, a mixture of flour and water may be added. Season to taste. Remove from heat, cover and let sit for 20-30 minutes as dumplings absorb broth. Serves 6.