Like I've said many times, my Grandma Casey was an incredible cook. She could make just about anything taste good. An old timey favorite of the whole family was chicken and dumplings. Grandma's dumplings were of the southern-style, rolled dumplings and not the high fluffy steamed biscuit type. The dumplings floated in a thick rich chicken gravy, with falling off the bone moist chicken pieces in abundance. I tried years and years to re-create Grandma's chicken and dumplings before coming up with a close approximation. While this isn't exactly like Grandma's, it is close enough to satisfy the hunger for her good cooking. Chicken and dumplings makes a meal in itself. We always ate it ladled over mashed potatoes. But no matter how you eat it, it is always good!
a roasting or stewing hen, if unable to find either, the largest fryer you can find.
giblets from the chicken
chopped onions and celery, about a cup to cup and a half each
sprinkle of poultry seasoning, maybe 1/2 tsp. or so
water to cover (about 2 quarts)
Simmer the chicken, vegetables and seasoning until the chicken is extremely tender. You should have at least a quart to a quart and a half of broth. If not that much either add some water or some canned chicken broth. Allow to cool in the broth, then remove and take off the bone, discarding bones and skin. Cut into bite size pieces and return to broth. Leave giblets in the broth as well as the vegetables. Skim as much fat off the broth as possible, reserving about 3 tbsp. Bring back to a boil.
While the broth is coming back to a boil, make the dumpling dough.
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. chicken fat or used melted butter
3/4 cup buttermilk
Mix the flour, salt and baking soda together and then stir in the chicken fat or melted butter. Mix well. Make a well in the center and pour in the buttermilk. Stir together quickly, making a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a well floured board and knead quickly 3-4 times. Then roll out about 1/4 inch thick. Cut into 2-3 inch squares. Drop the dough squares into the boiling broth and stir after each addition. Cover the pot and simmer about 10-15 minutes until the dumplings are done and tender. The broth should thicken, but if not make a flour and butter roux (equal amounts of flour and butter cooked until it begins to brown a little bit) and stir into the broth, simmer about another minute or two until thick enough. Enjoy!