Recipe 57: Grandma Benz’s Dumplings

June 22, 2011

Source: Grandma Benz

Dumplings are kind of like my cooking Mt. Everest.

You need to understand something about my family. My grandmother had the option to go anywhere on Mother’s day. The sky was the limit. Fancy italian, chinese, whatever. She chose a buffet at a truck stop.

It wasn’t surprising. This is just how my family is. We don’t do fancy very often because we’re not very good at it and usually wind up making fools of ourselves.

This truck stop buffet had many things my Grandma had cooked for my father, uncle and aunt, and then again for the next generation. There were many foods that define Southern Illinois for me. I feel like a viewer discretion advised warning is necessary for this list, because its so unhealthy my blood is clotting at the very thought. Fried chicken, vegetables cooked with bacon, ham, cobblers, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole. You know, things that make your heart say: oh for love of God, are you trying to kill us? But I eat them anyway. Because I’m a Benz. And I love them.

But the most important Benz family staple that was on that buffet were the Chicken and Dumplings.

Chicken and dumplings have such weight in my mind. Both of my Grandma’s have made chicken and dumplings my whole life, so its one of my favorite comfort foods. They each make it very differently. Grandma Cauble’s are a bit thicker and she only uses the broth and serves the chicken on the side. Grandma Benz’s are thinner and she keeps the chicken in. Both equally unique and delicious. And, unfortunately, both recipes undocumented.

It came much to our surprise that when a family cookbook was passed out at a family reunion last year, one page said: Barbara Benz’s chicken and dumplings. We imagine it took a bit of time to think about what is in this recipe, because she does it unscripted every time. But we were excited, and a year later, we were going to cook it.

I went over to Mom and Dad’s one sunday afternoon a bit nervous. The chicken was already boiling in a pot.  The ingredients were out. After Mom taught me to make my Dad fried eggs for brunch, it was go time.

We took the chicken out of the water to later be pitted. We drained the broth and got it ready for dumplings to be placed in it, one at a time. We needed the flour, salt, and broth together to make the dumplings. Yes, the dumplings would be double brothy.

Dumplings take a lot of kneading and precision. They are hard to roll out and hard to find good consistency for, a trait that will come in time. But Mom and I did fine for our first try together. We rolled them out and cut them into 2 by 2 squares. We added them to the boiling broth.

Then we pitted the chicken. Mom had been threatening me all morning with this.

“I’m so making you pit the chicken, and its awful. Its the worst. You’ll hate it.”

I don’t know why she did this, because it wasn’t that bad. Its just slimy. But I played with Nickelodeon Gak as a child, so I can handle slimy.

We put the chicken in with the dumplings and boom, Everest completed in an hour. Did we rock it? Almost. The dumplings were are bit too thick for our liking, but it got Dad’s seal of approval, so we still felt good about it.

On to the next one.

 

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One Response to “Recipe 57: Grandma Benz’s Dumplings”

  1. JoFu Says:

    you had me hooked at buffet truck stop.


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