Growing up in Nebraska I always loved chicken and dumplings. My dumpling world was limited to the ones Mom made, however. If I recall correctly, these were dumplings made with Bisquick. They were delicious and a personal favorite but they are considerably different than the ones you’ll find on order in Texas. Mom’s were pillowy spoonfulls as opposed to the traditional wide Texas strips.
My Texas experience with dumplings began at the Paris Coffee Shop. Fridays were the special day of the week when Paris served wall-to-wall patrons with delicious helpings of chicken ‘n dumplins on cafeteria style trays along with traditional Texas sides like steamed okra. It was a pilgrimage for many of us. Comfort food after ill advised nights out or breaks from study sessions. (Oh, who am I kidding, the latter probably never happened.)
So, imagine my delight when my wife-to-be brought me home to Houston during a break in the semester only to introduce me to her Gramma, in the kitchen, preparing a delicious pot of chicken and dumplins. Mrs. NH’s family was serious about this dinner. My future father in law even had his own dumpling bowl. I’ll admit, I was a bit taken back by the seriousness of the whole ritual. Dedicated dumplin bowls?
Yet, as soon as I took my first bite of these dumplins, I realized exactly what all the fuss was about. I wanted this recipe in my family. Marriage seemed like a pretty good way to lock it in.
So imagine my glee last Saturday night. I was in the NH kitchen to witness the first mother-daughter joint dumplin cookoff. Mrs. NH passed down the recipe and technique to Little NH just as her Gramma did before she passed away. I have to say, love must be a major component in this recipe. Because with both generations of NH girls in on the cooking, they tasted better than they ever have. And that’s saying something.
Oh, and a note on the spelling of “dumplin”; I was informed at my first meal with the family of my wife to be that dropping the G was the correct pronunciation. You think I’d argue and risk getting a second helping?
I have to say, it’s great to have family traditions like this especially when all I have to do is eat the finished product. With any luck, my girls will pass this tradition down to my grandkids some day. Time to get me a dumplin bowl.