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As far as I can tell, there is no good information on the internet discerning the difference between chicken n’ dumplings and chicken n’ pastry. Why is that? “Because nobody cares,” you snidely remark. You are probably right but since I gain a certain pleasure in having people listen to me talk about things that nobody cares about,  I am going to continue.

Let’s start with the basics:

In the riveting, year-round classic The Oxford Companion to Food, gastronomic historian Alan Davidson romantically describes the origins of the dumpling:

“A dumpling is a food with few, indeed no, social pretensions, and of such simplicity that it may plausibly be supposed to have evolved independently in the peasant cuisines of various parts of Europe and probably in other parts of the world too. Such cuisines feature soups and stews, in which vegetables may be enhanced by a little meat. Dumplings, added to the soup or stew, are still, as they were centuries ago, a simple and economical way of extending such dishes.

“Dumpling. A term of uncertain origin which first appeared in print at the beginning of the 17th century, although the object it denotes–a small and usually globular mass of boiled or steamed dough–no doubt existed long before that.”

How charming.

Pastry is in fact a different beast altogether. It’s rolled out like a pie crust and cut into strips. It is in fact a simple, flat pasta.

I am glad to have cleared that up. Now let’s eat.

The Ingredients

  • 5 to 6 lb whole chicken
  • 2 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • (2 tbsp reserved chicken fat)
  • (1 c reserved broth)

The Process

Disclaimer* Chicken n’ Pastry takes a long time because you have to wait on things to cool. I suggest starting early or having a lot of wine on hand.

Start by boiling the chicken until the meat is falling off of the bone. This normally takes at least 30 minutes but can vary depending on the size of your chicken. Once the meat is tender, place the chicken in a colander to cool, reserving the broth and drippings. Place the broth in a container in the refrigerator to allow the fat to rise. Meanwhile, debone the chicken.

Once the fat has risen (this is the long wait), skim the fat and set aside. Pour the broth through a sieve over a stock pit and bring to a gentle boil leaving 1 cup of broth for the pastry. Add the vegetables, herbs and bullion (the added bullion makes a significant difference in taste!) to the broth and allow it to cook for about 25 minutes while you are making the pastry.

Making the Pastry is super simple. In a large bowl, combine the flour and 2 tsp of the reserved chicken fat with a fork until it is crumbly. Then add the reserved broth (1 cup) and 1 1/2 tsp of salt and blend into a ball.

Roll out the pastry dough until it is about 1/8 in. thick and cut into 2 in. squares. When you are ready, remove the vegetables from the broth with a slotted spoon and turn the temperature to high to get a rolling boil. Drop in the pastry, strip by strip, and stir to prevent sticking. Allow for the pastry strips to cook for about 10 minutes keeping an eye on the boil.

Add the chicken and season with salt and pepper. Let the dish cook for another 5 minutes or so for the chicken to warm. I topped mine with a little fresh parsley and ate immediately.