Get ready for a taste of Southern hospitality with these homemade chicken and dumplings! This thrifty dish is classic comfort food that can’t be beat. It’s a breeze to make and it makes a large pot, perfect for large family dinners or just meal prepping. We make the dumplings from scratch in this recipe but don’t that scare you, it’s as easy as pie!
Most folks associate chicken and dumplings with the civil war and great depression and while this isn’t wrong, the real history goes further back. Our journey begins in Germany, the land of the dumpling. One of the most famous German dumpling dishes is spaetzle, which is a heavy egg dumpling typically made out of potatoes. In the 1820s, a large number of Germans began immigrating to the US, and they brought them a lot of their dishes. One of these dishes was chicken and dumplings. Dumplings were originally called knoedel by Germans, then became knoedela by Polish Jews.
It wouldn’t be until 1836 that we got our first meat and dumpling dish in print. Mary Randolph’s cookbook "The Virginia Housewife" mentions an meat and dumpling dish. A few years later we'd see it another meat and dumpling dish with Lettice Bryan’s "The Kentucky Housewife". The book makes mention of suet dumplings that are boiled with red meat. However the chicken and dumplings that we know in modern day would first be published in 1879 in Marion Cabell Tyree’s (say that 3 times fast) "Housekeeping in Old Virgina". It should be noted that while most of these cookbooks give the impression that housewives were the master of chicken and dumplings, the reality is that African slaves and servants were the ones doing the heavy lifting.
There are two types of dumplings when it comes to chicken and dumplings: Northern style and Southern style. The Southern style is rolled dumplings, while Northern is dough that rises to be fluffy rounded dumplings.