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  • Writer's pictureTommy Centola

Putting twist on classic

To say that moving to Searcy from New Orleans was a culture shock would be an understatement. It was a pleasant change. There seems to be a slower pace of life here, which was refreshing. The cost of living is also lower. The prices of housing down there makes me happy to come back to Searcy.

Dining out was another change. Gone was the types of New Orleans foods that I grew up with. It did open my eyes to some foods that I had never tried before. Chicken and Dumplings is one of those dishes. It’s possible that I have eaten this dish before I arrived in Arkansas, but I have no recollection of it. This down-home Southern dish should have its picture next to the definition of comfort food. I would put it right up there with gumbo.

Today, I am sharing with you a sightly different version of this classic. It is rare that I cook a dish directly from a recipe. Those dishes are usually reserved for my mom’s recipes. This Louisiana Chicken and Dumpling recipe has a little more flavor than the traditional recipe.

Louisiana Chicken and Dumplings

3 tablespoons poultry seasoning

1/2 teaspoon filé powder (optional)

2 (2 1/2 to 3-pound) chicken fryers, each cut into 8 pieces

1 cup all-purpose flour

Vegetable oil for frying

Dumplings (recipe to follow)

2 quarts chicken stock

3 cups onions, chopped

3 cups green bell peppers

2 cups heavy cream

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

If using the filé powder, combine with the poultry seasoning in a small bowl to make the Seasoning Mix.

Sprinkle the chicken evenly with 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of the Seasoning Mix and rub it in well.

Combine 1 tablespoon of the seasoning mix with the flour in a paper or plastic bag. Place the chicken pieces in the bag and shake to coat, reserving the leftover flour mixture for the roux. Heat 1 inch of oil in a very large skillet over medium heat to 230 to 250℉, and cook the chicken in batches, large pieces and skin side down first. Cook until golden brown on both sides, about 30 minutes, and drain on paper towels.

Meanwhile, make the dumpling dough and set aside.

Combine the stock, onions, bell peppers, cream and the remaining seasoning in a 6-quart pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the bell peppers darken in color, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken and continue simmering, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is tender, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the dumplings by dropping the batter by teaspoons onto a rack in a steamer and steaming until cooked through, about 5 to 7 minutes. If you don't have a steamer, use a colander over a small amount of water in a large saucepan, and cover with a lid or aluminum foil.

To thicken the sauce, make a roux by stirring together the melted butter and 2 tablespoons of the reserved seasoned flour. Stir in 1/2 cup of liquid from the chicken pot, and return this to the pot. Cover and simmer for 2 minutes. Add the dumplings and stir gently. Cook until the dumplings are heated though, about 2 minutes.


4 eggs

1/2 cup onions, minced

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 tablespoon Creole seasoning

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage

1/2 cup milk

1 stick unsalted butter, melted

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Combine the eggs and onions in a large bowl and beat vigorously with a whisk until frothy, about 2 minutes. Add the baking powder (break up any lumps) and seasonings, and whisk until blended. Stir in the milk and butter. Gradually add the flour, a third at a time, to the center of the mixture, beating well after each addition. Cook as directed in the repine above.

One of my most enjoyable opportunities I have received here in Searcy is my sharing of my recipes with you. I often say, “If my High School English teachers could see me now.” I was never one who enjoyed writing until the past 10 years or so. Thank you for allowing me into your homes. I am trying to find a place to do cooking demonstrations/classes. Message me if you are interested and/or have any ideas on where to hold them.

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