Nearly everyone I know loves homemade chicken and dumplings. It was one of those dishes that make me think of my mother and of her mother and sisters who made and loved them. They are definitely in the realm of “comfort food.” I found this particular recipe as a result of looking up the Cracker Barrel Restaurant Chicken & Dumplings. I don’t know if it is their actual recipe, but it is really good. It’s easy to make, but does take some time from start to finish. As I am making it today, I plan to take it to a church potluck for lunch tomorrow. I am doing the “chicken & broth” part today and then in the morning, I will mix up the dumplings to put into the broth that has been reheated. After the dumplings cook in the morning, I will put the whole thing into a crock pot to keep warm until lunch time.
For the Chicken and Broth:
- 3 quarts water
- 1 3-4 pound chicken cut up
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
- 1 small onion sliced
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 tablespoons of dry parsley
- 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 can cream of chicken soup
For the Dumplings:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 1/4 teaspoons of salt
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
Fill a large pot with water. Then add the chicken, 1 teaspoon of salt, onion, celery, garlic and parsley to the pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to simmer and cook the chicken, uncovered, for 2 hours. The liquid will reduce by about one third.
When the chicken has cooked, remove it from the pot and set it aside. Strain the stock to remove all the vegetables. You only want the stock and the chicken, so toss everything else out.
Pour 1 1/2 quarts (6 cups) of the stock back into the pot (keep the leftover stock, if any, for another recipe–it can be frozen). Add pepper, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and the lemon juice. Reheat the stock over medium heat while preparing the dumplings.
For dumplings, combine the flour, baking powder, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, and milk in a medium bowl. Stir well until smooth. Then, let the dough rest for 5-10 minutes. Roll the dough out onto a floured surface to about 1/2 inch thickness.
Cut the dough into 1/2 inch squares and drop each square into the simmering stock. The dumplings will first swell and then slowly shrink as they partially dissolve to thicken the stock into a white gravy. Add the cream of chicken soup. Simmer for 20-30 minutes until thick. Stir often.
While the stock is thickening, the chicken will have become cool enough to handle. Tear all the meat from the bones and remove the skin. Cut the chicken meat into bite-size or a little bigger than bite-size pieces and drop them into the pot. Discard the skin and bones. Continue to simmer the chicken and dumplings for another 5-10 minutes, but don’t stir too vigorously or the chicken will shred and fall apart. You want big chunks of chicken in the dumplings.