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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Cracker Barrel Chicken and Dumplings

Since our friends are coming this weekend, I probably won't take the time to post again tomorrow, so I thought I'd go ahead and post this one, too. It's another from my friend, Tina! Enjoy! :)

Cracker Barrel Chicken and Dumplings Recipe

Chicken and Broth:

3 quarts water* see note at end before you start
½ of a chicken, cut up (with bones, skin, etc. still on) * see note at end
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 small onion sliced into big pieces
2 stalks celery
1 clove garlic peeled and quartered
1 bay leaf
4-6 whole parsley leaves (I never have these so I just sprinkle some parsley in there)
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper (if you don't have coarse pepper, USE LESS, I learned this the hard way)
1 Tablespoon lemon juice

Dumplings

2 cups all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 ¼ teaspoons salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk (I seem to remember this was too much milk, so you might want to add a little at a time until you get a “rollable” dough, it's been a while since I've made this!)

1. Bring the water to a boil in a large pot. Add the chicken, 1 teaspoon of salt, onion, garlic, celery, bay leaf and parsley to the pot. Reduce the heat to simmer, cook the chicken, uncovered, for 2 hours. The liquid should reduce some.
2. Remove chicken from pot and set it aside. Strain the stock to remove all the vegetables and floating stuff. You only want the chicken, so toss everything else out.
3. Pour 1 ½ quarts (6 cups) of the stock into the pot (keep the leftover stock, if any, for another recipe, you can save it for next time! It's freezable). Add coarsely ground pepper, the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt, and the lemon juice, then reheat the stock over medium heat while preparing dumplings.
4. For dumplings, combine the flour, baking powder, 1 ¼ tsp salt, and milk in medium bowl. Stir well until smooth, then let the dough rest for 5-10 minutes. Roll the dough onto floured surface to about ½ inch thickness.
5. Cut the dough into ½ inch squares and drop each square into the simmer stock. Use ALL of the dough, it seems like a lot but they cook down. The dumplings will first swell and then slowly partially dissolve to thicken the stock into gravy. Simmer for 20-30 minutes until thick. STIR OFTEN.
6. While the stock is thickening, tear all the meat from the bones and remove the skin. Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces and drop them into the pot. Continue to simmer the chicken and dumplings for a few minutes, but don't stir too vigorously or the chicken will shred and fall apart (not a big deal if it does though in my opinion).
7. When the gravy has reached the desired consistency, ladle portions onto plates and serve hot.

A few notes from trial and error:

*I always start with more water (maybe 4 quarts) and a WHOLE chicken, and then you have enough chicken and stock to make this twice. I always freeze all but the 6 or 7 cups of stock and ½ the chicken for next time. It's up to you though.

Also, the dumplings are a funny step, you'll be sure something's wrong when they all blow up in the pot, but they really do cook down, just keep stirring gently. They are so YUMMY!

1 comment:

onlinepastrychef said...

I am a huge chicken and dumplings fan, and Cracker Barrel is one of my favorites for eating out.

Another point on the dumplings--don't let the stock boil vigorously while dumplings are cooking or they will ALL DISAPPEAR into the stock. I learned this the hard way many years ago:)

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