RECIPE: Granny’s Chicken Pastry

Last weekend my college BFF Janet came to visit me from Washington, D.C. It was pretty much the most exuberantly exhausting, laughter-filled weekend I’ve had in a long while. Pretty much the best weekend EVER, actually– in part because of the LUNCH we had on Saturday:

Spoon it up!

That’s right, in between the shopping, speakeasy cocktails, dancing, billiards, live jazz, karaoke, 4:30 a.m. diner breakfast, epic street fair and delicious brunch with sorority sisters, we managed to find the time to cook my very first recipe post for this blog: Granny’s Chicken Pastry!

The dish comes from Janet’s Granny in Eastern North Carolina (many thanks to her mom, aunts and other family members for getting the recipe to us in time), and it was really the perfect lunch meal after a long night out on the town: simple, filling, delicious and light.

Aside from being probably the easiest recipe ever, Chicken Pastry is really versatile: we thought of about a million variations you could try to add different flavors and textures (Bitter greens? Crispy bacon? Root vegetables?). I’ll probably do a follow-up post sometime in which I make this ‘Janet’s Way,’ – with parsnips, parsley, thyme, carrots, etc. – but for this post we wanted to keep things simple, just like Granny likes to make it. We’re fairly certain Chicken Pastry is unique to Eastern North Carolina, at least the version with the long, noodle-like dumplings (as opposed to your typical biscuit dumplings). Some folks call it Chicken Slick. And pretty much everyone uses store-bought, frozen pastry strips now… but not Granny– and not us, either.

Let’s get started. You will need:

Gather Your Ingredients

  • Bone-in, skin-on chicken (we used 2 legs, though next time I think I’ll use a whole chicken)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • Eggs (1-2 per serving, depending on how hungry you are)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • About 12 cups water, or enough to fully cover the chicken (other recipes I’ve seen call for a lot less water– as little as 6 cups– which I think is probably O.K., as long as you’re happy with a lot less broth)
  • Salt
  • Pepper

First, boil your eggs in a small pot.

Place your chicken into a large stock pot and cover with water.

Add onions, celery, salt and pepper. Bring to a steady boil.

(Don’t forget to remove your eggs from the heat. Peel and halve them, then set them aside).

Hard-Boiled Eggs

Cook the chicken and vegetables for about 20-25 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Turn the heat all the way down. Remove the chicken from the pot.

Shred the cooked chicken

When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the skin and discard it. Pull the meat off the bones and shred it into bite sized pieces. Set aside.

Add the broth to the flour

Take about 3/4 cup of the chicken broth you’ve made and add it to the flour, along with additional salt and pepper (lots of pepper, if you’re like Janet or her uncle. I think it could also be interesting to shave some lemon peel into the flour, perhaps?).

Work that dough!

Knead your dough for the pastry strips.

Flour your work surface and your rolling pin.


Roll out the pastry until it’s about 1/8″ thick.

Cut Your Pastry

Cut your pastry into strips that are about 5″ long and about 1″ wide.

Turn the heat back up under the pot, bring to a low boil.

Add your pastry strips into the boiling broth, one by one. Gently stir between strips so that they don’t stick together.

Simmer uncovered for about about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat.

Add your shredded chicken back to the pot, along with your eggs.

Granny's Chicken Pastry!

And that’s it!

A meal in a bowl

A meal in a bowl. The eggs make a huge difference.

Spoon it up!

Don’t forget to add lots (as in, even more than this!) of freshly cracked black pepper before you dig in. The flavors are so simple and clean, you’ll love the peppery bite. Serves about 6-8.

… Thanks Granny (and Janet of course)!

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  • Blonniefgarrison

    Man! That looks so good! I can’t wait to share the public comments with my eastern NC Carolina family! I also recognize those LONG slender fingers rolling out the dough and that lovely diamond ring my future son-in-law gave Janet.

    It is about time you two collaborated on a cooking blog! So tickled that it was about our much loved “Chicken Pastry”…aka “Pastry”!!!

    See you soon, Esther!

    –Blonnie Ellen Stroud Garrison

  • Budapest Belle

    So glad you liked the post! I can’t wait to hear what the family thinks :)

    I have you fooled on the fingers, though: that’s me rolling out the dough, but you’re right, that IS Janet kneading the dough – my left ring finger remains unadorned for now ;)

    I can’t wait to cook & blog with Janet again! It was a lot of fun. & I can’t wait to see all of you, of course!


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  • Blonnie Garrison

    Comment from Janet and Blonnie’s Aunt Janet: I don’t add in the vegetables of celery and onions. We just like it plain. Also, from the photos, it looked like the eggs may have needed to be boiled a little longer. Great photos and fun watching our beloved Chicken Pastry get all this attention.

  • Blonnie Garrison

    Comment from Janet and Blonnie’s cousin Jane: We buy a pre-made frozen pastry. It is made in a near by town (near Kinston, NC) and it even has a bible verse in the box. We boil the chicken use the broth and add a can of crean of chicken soup. (I am not an egg fan. So, I leave out the eggs.)

  • Budapest Belle

    Thanks, cousin Jane and aunt Janet! Much appreciated. I like the idea of adding the cream of chicken soup!

  • Tuperglo

    Being from that area myself (Smithfield), I can’t believe the similarities to my grandma’s chicken pastry.  We never called it chicken and dumplings.  In fact, in the later years, we all referred to it as “slick”.  I can’t wait to try it.

  • Esther Brown

    I’m so glad you found the recipe! Let me know how it turns out!

  • catering Fort Lauderdale

    Chicken pastry is one of those good old recipes that never loses its goodness. This  recipe that you shared is very similar to what most of us used to have as children. This will surely be enjoyed by everyone when served in dinners or simple gatherings at home or even catering events.

  • Woody_bev_baker

    Yep! this is the only Chicken pastry recipe! Living in the Solomon Islands and needing a taste of eastern NC. My mom is a master but I know many southern cooks that make it just as good. It’s a no fail recipe and a favourite with our family.

  • Kim

    This is close to my Grams. She’d thicken it a bit and then turn in the dough. My up north they call it dumplins… not in our house. Supper time with the Lentvorskys. Yum!

  • wedding venues South Florida

    One of the most loved recipes of all time is chicken pastry. Everyone loves its goodness. This would be a great offering  for special events such as birthdays and wedding events.

  • Bgna2009

    I am trying this for the first time .

  • Catherine McRae

    I just searched for “chicken pastry” hoping something would come up with flat noodles rather than the typical dumplings (I’m making it tonight and wanted a refresher).  My Granny was also from the eastern part of NC, near Kinston, and chicken pastry was an absolute favorite of mine! She kept hers plain (no onions, celery, or eggs), but all else is the same. I remember that she liked the pastry rolled impossibly thin!  Incidentally, I wonder if adding eggs is unique to that part of the state?  She added eggs to something called fish stew, which was also very regional.  I’ve never seen it anywhere else.  Boiling a whole chicken definitely helps the broth. I remember making it once when the broth just didn’t have good flavor – too dilute I think. Thanks for sharing!

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