To prepare a chicken and dumplings recipe similar to the version served at Cracker Barrel, begin by boiling a 3- to 6-pound chicken in 2 quarts water, along with 2 teaspoons salt. Once the water begins to boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and allow the chicken to cook for an hour. Remove the chicken, preserving the broth, and let it cool. Then, debone the chicken and set the meat aside.
Bring the chicken broth back to a boil, and add 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Combine 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1?2 teaspoon baking soda and 1?2 teaspoon salt. To the mixture, cut in 3 tablespoons shortening. Using a fork, stir 3/4 cup of buttermilk into the dough.
Knead the dough by hand, then pinch off small pieces approximately 1/2 inch in diameter and drop into the boiling broth. Reduce to medium-high heat and cook the dumplings for about 8 to 10 minutes. Stir frequently.
When the dumplings are fully cooked, return the deboned chicken to the Dutch oven. Stir all the ingredients together, then serve.
In place of buttermilk, a small amount of vinegar may be added to regular milk. Let the milk and vinegar mixture sit for five minutes before adding it to the dough.
For a richer tasting broth, add celery and carrots to the pot when boiling the chicken. Some versions of the recipe also call for the addition of boullion cubes or additional seasonings.