–Only a Southerner knows instinctively that the best gesture of solace for a
neighbor who’s got trouble is a plate of hot fried chicken and a big bowl of
cold potato salad. If the neighbor’s trouble is a real crisis, they also know to
add a large banana puddin’.
Chicken pastry is probably the very first “local” dish that I learned to prepare when I moved to NC almost 20 years ago, but of course there are other regions that call it chicken and dumplings. Dumplings, ha, ours are freshly made pastry sheets if you’re lucky because most folks buy frozen pastry sheets these days, but to me a fresh “pasta” is always better so having not made chickenpastry, yes one word like sweettea, in many years I started a batch today to break up the cookie baking frenzy, well not actually a frenzy, but certainly more cookie baking than I have done in years.
Finally some chilly weather, yes I think the 70°’s that we’ve had are finally coming to an end hence the lack of enthusiasm in “decorating” for Christmas it’s just not right to deck the halls in a winter heat wave. So onward to a wonderful comfort dish Eastern Carolina style, but it is a difficult decision to keep it traditional or take the dish on a journey to Italy and make dunderi instead of “pastry”. Pastry for sure and dunderi for another night.
Choose a large soup pot to simmer your chicken in. Prepare boiled eggs, 9 or so minutes of cooking time after water boils is perfect for me, allow to cool, peel and slice, cover and refrigerate until time to add to a bowl of
For starters chunks of peeled onions, celery, a clove of garlic, and broken carrots sautéed for a few minutes then seasoned with salt, pepper, 2 bay leaves, a couple of sprigs of thyme, a pinch of cayenne, and deglazed with a little vermouth (or moonshine) (my addition). Pour in about 6 cups of water or enough to cover the chicken by 2 inches and heat on medium heat until it starts to boil, turn down to low heat simmer for at least 1-1/2 hours or until chicken is no longer pink when you pull a piece to try. Remove the chicken and place in a colander over a bowl, remove chunks of vegetables, bay leaves and thyme sprigs and allow chicken to cool until you can handle it to pull off chunks of chicken checking for bones of course.
Add the some of the chicken back to the broth, toss in 3 diced carrots and 2 peeled diced celery stalks simmer until the vegetables are tender and add a few pastry sheets, another layer of chicken, and then more pastry. Cook until pastry is tender, fresh will take less than the frozen sheets.
Thin pastry sheets are made with about 2 cups of AP flour, salt and pepper, pinch of cayenne, teaspoon of lemon juice and a little zest (my personal additions) 3/4- 1 cup of the chicken broth, blend to soft dough, knead on floured surface, and roll out to about 1/8 inch, cut into 1-1/2 x 5 inch strips and place on floured sheet pan until time to add to the pot.
Serve piping hot with egg slices in each bowl…biscuits a must.