Today's dish centers on a concept that might be difficult to understand if you've never experienced a certain sensation: once you've had good, Southern chicken 'n' dumplins, sometimes you will wake up needing them. "I require chicken 'n' dumplins," your body tells you, "and if I don't get them, you won't like what happens." I don't know what exactly my body has in mind when it threatens me this way. I've never been brave enough to call its bluff.
You will need:
• 1 can of chicken in water • 1 can of chicken broth • 1 can of cream of chicken • 1 small can of biscuits (one of the little ones that makes 6 biscuits)
Note to Northerners: when I say "dumplins", I don't mean noodles. Note to Asian food connoisseurs: I also don't mean "dumplings"; you'll notice the "g" is very deliberately missing whenever I type "dumplins". We're talking about the kind of dumplins typically made from lard or dough.
The best chicken 'n' dumplins I ever had were made by my grandmother ("Me-Maw", in the genuine East Texas parlance), who had a meticulous recipe for just the right amount of flour to roll the Crisco in, and exactly what consistency the dumplins should be, and which part of the chicken to use for best results. This is not her recipe (perhaps another time). This recipe is one my Mom came up with, which is fast, easy, and cheats like hell. It's the kind of recipe I'm infinitely more likely to bother with when I wake up as hung over as I did today; hung over enough for it to suck, but not quite hung over enough to start calling around at ambulance services and trying to talk them into bringing me some Taco Bell.
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You don't need your Big-ass Pot for this; a Medium-ass pot should do. Spray some no-stick on in there, then mix in the cream of chicken soup and the broth. You'll want to go ahead and stir that mixture with a whisk (or a fork if you still haven't gone out and bought a goddamn whisk). Now set the mixture on the stove at medium-ish heat; on my stove's scale of one to ten, I had it at six.
While that's taking forever to come to a simmer, open up your can of biscuits. Squish the biscuits flat with your hands to get as much air out of them as possible, then cut them into fourths, like little pie wedges.
Once your gravy/broth is simmering (that means a very low boil with tiny bubbles), dump the biscuit pieces in there. You can let them cook for about ten minutes before you dump the chicken in there with them, and let that simmer for about five more minutes. Make sure you drain the water from the chicken before you dump it in. I mean, unless you like chicken-water, which I guess is possible. I don't know you people.
Okay, so, around 15 minutes cook-time, total, and you're done. Turn off the heat, let it cool a bit, and enjoy. Garnish with crackers or whatever you like with your chicken 'n' dumplins. It's not like Me-Maw used to make, but it is surprisingly delicious, and if you have one of those "MY BODYLAND DEMANDS CHICKEN 'N' DUMPLINS IMMEDIATELY MANIFEST WITHIN ITS BORDERS" mornings, it's pretty much the perfect thing. You may even want to increase the amounts of the ingredients; this recipe makes roughly two big servings, and you'll probably want more.