This is what I served for dinner today and everyone scarfed it down. I love the cookbook Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur because we can have the restaurant goodness at a very low cost.
Cracker Barrel's Chicken and Dumplins
By Todd Wilbur
Chicken and Broth
3 qts water
1 3-4lb chicken, cut up
11/2 teaspoons salt
1 small onion, sliced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and quartered
1 bay leaf
4-6 whole parsley leaves
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
11/4 teaspoons salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
1. Bring the water to a boil in a large pot. Add the chicken, 1 teaspoon salt, onion, celery, garlic, bay leaf and parsley to the pot. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook the chicken, uncovered, for 2 hours. The liquid will reduce by about one third.
2. When the chicken has cooked, remove it from the pot and set aside. Strain the stock to remove all the vegetables and floating scum. You only want the stock and the chicken, so toss everything else out.
3. Pour 11/2 quarts of the stock back into the pot (keep the leftover stock, if any, for another recipe-it can be frozen). You may also want to use a smaller pot or a large saucepan for this. Add coarsely ground pepper, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the lemon juice, then reheat the stock over medium heat while preparing the dumplins.
4. For dumplins, combine the flour, baking powder, 1/14 teaspoon 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 a 1/2-inch thickness.
5. Cut the dough into 1/2-inch squares and drop each square into the simmering stock. Use all of the dough. The dumplins will first swell and then slowly shrink as they partially dissolve to thicken the stock into a white gravy. Simmer for 20-30 minutes until thick. Stir often.
6. 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 dumplins 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 end.
7. When the gravy has reached the desired consistency, ladle four portions onto plates and serve hot. Serve with your choice of steamed vegetables, if desired.
**Trauma Mama's Changes**
I simmer the veggies until tender after the chicken has cooked. I see no point in wasting perfectly good veggies and I add a few more.