Few things are more Southern than Chicken and Dumplings. This recipe comes from one of my Annual Southern Living cookbooks - if you are a serious cook (even if you aren't!), you need these cookbooks. . . Really. I have a handful of these and use them frequently. I've never been disappointed. I think it is the buttermilk in this recipe that makes it stand above the crowd.
1 whole (2 1/2 to 3 lb) whole chicken
2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
2 medium carrots, roughly chopped
2 quarts water
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons Crisco
3/4 cup whole buttermilk
Place chicken, celery, and carrots in a Dutch oven; add water and 2 teaspoons of the salt. Bring to a boil over high; cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer about 1 hour. Remove chicken from broth and let stand until cool enough to handle, about 15 minutes. Remove and discard skin and bones and cut into bite size pieces. Bring broth to a boil over high heat, add pepper.
Meanwhile, combine flour, baking soda, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Cut in Crisco with a pastry blender - or use your fingers - until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add buttermilk, stirring with a fork until dry ingredients are moistened. Turn dough onto a well-floured surface and knead lightly 4 or 5 times.
Pat dough into 1/2 inch thickness. Pinch off dough in 1 1/2 inch pieces and drop into boiling broth. Reduce heat to medium-low, cook, stirring occasionally, until desired consistency, about 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in chicken.
Garnish servings with chives, if desired.