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Jan 14, 2009 07:38 PM

Chicken & Dumplings

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.

          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.