Homemade chicken and dumplings for me starts with a pastured chicken. I happen to have some pastured chicken in the freezer that was raised by our friends, Brian and Coleen, over at Poplar Ridge Farm. Although chicken and dumplings can be made with "store bought" chicken, there is just something special about the taste of homegrown poultry!
I thaw my bird and then let it cook for at least 12 hours (sometimes longer) in the CrockPot until it completely falls apart. The broth from a bird that has been cooked for such a long time is especially nutritious! I always cook the bird with salt and pepper.
I then make at least two meals out of the bird. I use the beautiful, white, breast meat to make Chicken Casserole a lot of times. I find it's a well received and tasty dish to take to social potlucks or to take to family/friends when I want to share a dish. Or, we will use the breast meat for sandwiches or chicken salad sometimes.
I use the dark meat that I pull away from the bone for a hearty broth for either my chicken and dumplings or for chicken noodle soup.
So, after deboning the chicken I put the chicken and the broth back in the crock pot and let it get good and hot. Then, I make the dumplings and either drop them into the hot broth or roll them between my hands to make uniform size dumplings when I want my dish to look especially pretty.
I put the lid on the CrockPot and leave the dumplings to cook. (I usually add the dumplings a couple of hours before we are ready to eat.) A few minutes before it's time to eat, I remove the lid to the CrockPot and let the dumplings dry a little on top.
I use the following recipe for my dumplings:
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup lard
2/3 cup milk