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Chicken & Dumplings

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Would love some like my Mama used to make..which means real dough, not biscuit dumplings. Any suggestions?

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  1. I don't know what you mean by "not biscuit dumplings." Are you saying no canned biscuits? Or no dumplings cooked on top of the chicken, like a biscuit? I've tried chicken and dumplings at a couple of places, and I can semi-recommend two of them, and warn you away from the third. It's been quite a while, but I liked the chicken and dumplings at Hoover's on Manor Rd. They make the rolled and cut, noodly type of dumplings. More recently, I had the chicken and dumplings at Arkie's Grill on east Cesar Chavez. It's an old fashioned lunch counter kind of place, and I think they may only have the chicken and dumplings on Tuesdays, but I liked the C & D and the place a lot, especially for the price.

    The final place, which I want to warn you about, is Hill's Cafe on S. Congress. C & D is their lunch special one of the days each week (maybe Wednesday). It is NOT good. At all. I had to remind myself several weeks in a row before I remembered to take a long lunch and drive across town one day to try their C & D, and it was not only a letdown, it was terrible. It had one single flavor: thyme. Thyme is a powerful, pungent, slightly bitter herb, and it should be used sparingly (and not at all in C & D, IMO). What I was served was a bowl of bitter thyme slop, and I couldn't finish it.

    4 Replies
    1. re: angusb

      Not to go too far off topic... I've never eaten at Hill's but I do like thyme in my chicken and dumplings (and have never thought thyme was bitter). I must not be alone since Cook's Illustrated includes a teaspoon fresh minced in their recipe. So to each their own, I guess.

      I've never had the chicken and dumplings at Hoover's either, since they only have it on Wednesdays.

      The C&D at Threagill's is fine. Nothing special, but not terrible... middle of the road. It would probably satiate a craving. Thursdays only, I think.

      I don't understand why nobody in town has C&D on their regular menu. It seems like it's always a once-a-week special. I had a craving like this about a month ago and ended up just making some at home (from the aforementioned Cook's Illustrated recipe).

      1. re: Brian Lindauer

        To clarify my stand on the thyme issue, I'm not entirely opposed to thyme. I know that many people like it with chicken, and I use it myself on roasted chicken. But for me, chicken and dumplings is a very traditional recipe that was made by both of my grandmothers, and it was always just intense chicken broth flavor with pieces of chicken and dumplings, kind of like southern matzo ball soup, but with a thickened broth. I'm open to trying other interpretations, and I've had a few that included a little thyme that I liked. I've made that Cook's Illustrated recipe before, also, but after the first time I opted to do away with the thyme. Just my personal preference.

        And you are correct, thyme is not always bitter. But when it is past its prime (young, fresh leaves), such as when the leaves are old and tough, especially after it has "hardened" due to cold weather, OR when it is old and dusty low-quality dried thyme, it takes on a very bitter edge, which is most noticeable in large concentrations. The bowl that I was served at Hill's was redolent with that bitter old thyme flavor.

      2. re: angusb

        I agree that both Hoover's and Arlie's have great chicken and dumplings, but the two dishes are completely different. Hoover's is a big bowl of a nice, well spiced broth with small round dumplings and chicken bits floating in it. Think of a Won Ton soup and you'll get a good idea of ratio of broth to dumpling. Arkie's is a big scoop of noodle-like dumplings, hand rolled and knife cut. It's not a soup, but more like wet pasta with bits of chicken. I can recommend both, but if you’re looking for something like mama's, you want to choose accordingly.

        1. re: angusb

          The Hoover's on Manor has 'em on Wednesdays. If you're going for lunch, get there before noon to beat the rush.

        2. Frisco (Night Hawk) has chicken and dumplings, but I don't remember on which particular day it is a dinner special. They are of the "slick" variety which means more like a dense noodle then a biscuit floating on top. It was okay. I felt self-conscious eating it because it was colorless and appeared slopp-ish. The gravy was kind of nuclear yellow which probably has something to do with the broth. The dumplings had a nice texture to them, not too fluffy and not slippery wet.

          Cracker Barrel also has chicken and dumplings every day on the menu. I think they poach the chicken separately then pour the dumplings and gravy on top leaving pockets of water/broth on the bottom on the dish they serve it in. I think I remember it being kind of bland. Wish I could say more but it's been several years since I've had them last.

          Here's an article by Dale Rice for Austin360.

          http://www.austin360.com/food_drink/c...

          I had a similar craving a while ago and went on a mad internet search for a recipe or place that serves them. It's informative and even includes a recipe. Alas, I haven't really sought out the places he reviewed or made any at home.

          1 Reply
          1. re: topodrinko

            you want chicken & dumplings....... go see Ms. Dot.

          2. threadgill's does chicken and dumplings one day a week. forget which day.

            1. If I remember correctly, Cracker Barrel only serves C & D on a certain day of the week - but I could be wrong, it's happened before.
              If you live north and are willing to travel a little, Texan Cafe in Hutto has C & D on their menu. The dumplings are large round balls and the chicken in pieces mixed in. I remember it as been good though not extremely flavorful. The dumplings were not too soggy and the chicken wasn't dry. The gravy was also nice.

              1. best c&d hands down is at the louisiana cafe in round rock tx and they are authentic and the owner is from new orleans.

                1 Reply
                1. re: nytexan

                  Is that the Louisiana Longhorn Cafe? I looked at their .pdf lunch and dinner menus, and C&D was not listed, but I did find a mention on their website that it was served at lunch only.

                2. The chicken and dumplings at Hoover's were interesting, but a bit too unconventional for my tastes. They used smoked chicken--excessively smoked, IMHO--chicken rather than boiled, which I found distracted from the salty goodness of the broth. Also, they used an overwhelming amount of cinnamon which I found unappealing. I'm a huge fan of Hoover's, too, and this is the only time I've been disappointed by anything I've ordered.

                  1. I've never been able to find any like my mom's. She used to make flour tortilla dough & slice up the raw dough into strips to use for dumplings. Then she'd make a batch of fresh tortillas for us to have with the chicken & dumplings. Mmmmmm! Hoover's was okay, different and tasty but not what I was looking for with their round balls of dumplings. Someone mentioned Louisiana Longhorn Cafe...I've been disappointed each time I've tried their food and just can't make myself go back for C&D there. They may be from NOLA but I grew up in Looziana too and my home cooked food is better than their's. Threadgill's is good but still not "real" C&D like my mom made. I need to try Arkie's next. Or just make a batch at home. :-)

                    1. I so rarely find anyone that makes it the way my Dad does, that I gave up. I just make it at home the way he does and forget about getting it at a restaurant.

                      Amazing and simple recipe, by the way:
                      http://thefunctionalweirdo.wordpress....

                      1. Check out this site for the recipe. I've made this twice, and it's really good. I used can chicken broth.

                        http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/o...

                        1. OK, I'm not a C & D expert by any means; in fact I've had them only a few times, mainly because I never had any that I liked - until yesterday. Galloway's Sandwich shop changed my view of chicken and dumplings forever. They don't seem to have them every day - they had the menu for today up, yesterday, and it didn't have them on it - but these were excellent. And I don't go to Galloway's often enough to know when they have them - maybe someone else would have this info - but if you go there and they don't have them that day, you'll probably find something else just as good.... Anyway, bottom line is, they have really good C & D when they have it.

                          1. To make them ... this is one of the recipes I tried. Sorry, but I still like Bisquick better. My grand mother always used bisquick. Personally, don't like the others. I add basil and pepper to mine and always get rave reviews.

                            1. Thanks for all the suggestions. I'm going to give them all a try.

                              1. I second the vote for Dot's. C & D is a personal and subjective thing, but these almost bring a tear to my DH's eye because they are just like his mom made.