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Mother’s Southern Recipes: Chicken Raft, Chicken Creole, Gumbo

My mother gave me a package of chicken breasts to use up – anyone want to come over and let me cook for you? Not only will this use up the meat, but also it will force me to get off my ass and clean my apartment (which I have been neglecting for a couple months).

Dinner would probably be chicken raft. I know – you’ve never heard of it. It’s one of my family’s recipes… and, since I promised Biz, I’m including a few of my family recipes in the post (note: measurements are almost always approximations)

Chicken Raft (Sometimes this is called Chicken & Dumplings, but this is not the vegetables, yellow gravy, and distinct floating blobs of dough – but it’s not really a Chicken Pie, either)

Boil together:

  • 2lbs cubed chicken breast
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • dried celery flakes (or 1 whole stalk celery to be removed later)

  • water to cover, plus some

Add salt & pepper when done (if using celery stalk, remove it now).

Pour chicken and onion into a large casserole dish, and then pour the water left in the pot until it almost covers the chicken.

Mix up the BisQuick biscuit recipe only slightly drier… basing the amount on 2 cups of BisQuick, more if using more chicken. (Biz – substitute any biscuit recipe that works for you)

Roll out the dough to at least the length of the casserole dish. Slice the dough into 1/4″ strips. Any excess can be wadded up and plopped into the chicken… corners first to support the raft. Then lay strips 1″ or less apart lengthwise and then widthwise (I start at the edges, then middle, and then evenly divide the space until the grid is filled).

Bake at 350F for 40-50 minutes.

Open oven, but don’t remove the raft – add 1 whole stick of butter, sliced into pats and laid atop of the intersections of the raft… and add as muck milk as the dish will accommodate (pouring evenly over the crust to soften it)

Bake another 10 minutes.


Chicken Creole

bunch of chicken breasts (3-4?) (you can substitute shrimp in this recipe)
1/4 lb butter
1 onion, chopped
8-10 fresh tomatoes, peeled and diced (or 2 15oz cans of diced tomatoes)
10-12 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 green bell pepper, diced
fresh marjoram (optional… or can be substituted by thyme)


IN one saucepan, lightly brown bite-sized chunks of chicken breast in lots and lots of butter. Add onions and keep cooking until creamy golden. Add tomatoes, garlic, and green pepper. Cook until saucy but not watery. Salt and pepper to taste. If you have fresh marjoram, it is nice if added right at the end of cooking.

Serve over plump, white rice.


Gumbo Now, there are worlds of debate over how to make gumbo, even within the family, but this is how my mother likes it

3 medium onions
3/4 or 1 cup flour
2 1/2 to 3 lbs chicken, cut up (white or dark)
smallish stalk of celery
2 bay leaves
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 lbs shrimp, cooked and cleaned (with tails still attached)
1 1/2 lbs crab meat (or 6-8 soft shelled crabs)

water (stock can be substituted for some of the water)
worcestershire sauce
seafood seasoning (Old Bay, or your preferred brand)


Chop up onions. Grill onions in butter until translucent.

Brown flour. Make into a roux. Add enough water to make a thick gravy.

Pour gravy into a stock pot and add onions. Add chicken. Add more water until gravy is medium thin.

Add salt, pepper, worcestershire sauce, and a dash or two of seafood seasoning to taste. Add celery, bay leaves, and garlic.

Add shrimp and crab meat.

Let it cook until perfect.

You could also add scallops or lobster, but no fish or sausage or any of that crap (really – my momma says so).