Chicken and Dumplings

Cut a chicken into quarters and simmer in a gallon of water with carrots, onion, and celery. When tender, remove and bone chicken. Return bones to the pot and reduce liquid by about a third. Strain and return to pot to simmer.

You want a good, rich broth.

Make a stiff biscuit dough with sweet milk; roll it out to about an eighth of an inch, cut into strips, and drop into boiling broth. As the liquid thickens, add the chicken meat, boil for another minute, then reduce heat and cover.

After five minutes, cut the heat, and salt to taste. I like chicken and dumplings with a stiff dose of black pepper.

Aunt Beck’s Chicken Pie

Beck Beecham brought this pie to Granny Vaughn’s 90th birthday gathering ‘specially for her nephew, Jack, who’d escaped from Parchman to be at the celebration. Welty claims it’s a Methodist dish.

1 young chicken (about 4 lbs.)
6 small white onions
2 ounces bacon, cut in small cubes
2 1/2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
3 hard-cooked eggs, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
Pastry to cover a 9-inch pie

Boil the chicken in highly seasoned water and allow to cool in its broth. Separate the meat from skin and bones, leaving the chicken in large pieces. Boil the onions in salted water until tender, but not mushy, and drain.

Fry the bacon until tender, without browning; remove from frying pan and set aside. In the remaining fat, cook the flour over very low heat for 3 minutes, then gradually stir in 21/2 cups of the broth in which the chicken was cooked. Add parsley, celery, salt and pepper, simmer for 6 minutes.

Put half the quantity of bacon, half the chicken pieces, half the quantity of onions and half the quantity of eggs in the baking dish. Lay on the remaining pieces of chicken, add the rest of the other ingredients and pour the sauce over all.

Cover with rich pie pastry, pressing down the edges with a fork. Brush with milk and make several slashes for the steam to escape. Bake in a hot oven (450° F) for 15 minutes, reduce heat to moderate (350° F) and bake 30 minutes longer. Serve at once with succotash. Serves 6.

Spatchcocked Game Hen

An aromatic dish for small gatherings. These can be prepared on a sheet pan, but skillets make a better presentation. Preheat oven to 400. Rinse hen, pat dry, remove wing tips and backbone. Turn breast side up, open it up like a book, and whack it a time or two with your fist to crack the breastbone and flatten it out. Tuck the wings under the thighs. Oil the hen, season with salt and plenty of good black pepper. Line a well-oiled skillet with rosemary and garlic, place bird on top, and bake until browned.

Crystal Wings

Disjoint wings, and unless you’re a compulsive chicken stock person (I used to be one; trust me: get therapy) discard tips. Pat dry and deep-fry until lightly browned, toss with sloshes of Crystal Hot Sauce and dashes of granulated garlic. Bake on a rack in a moderate (300) oven until lightly crisp. These refrigerate well, but do not freeze.