And also inspired by the fact that I really would like to make these sometime soon; I haven't made it in years, probably since I had to stand on a chair to help my mother roll out the dumplings -- well, ok, not that long, quite, but close. (suzanne, we should make a plan to do this maybe next weekend or something like that.)
I see from my recipe file that this recipe is originally from my mother's father's mother, "Mama Sally" -- the only one of my great-grandparents that I knew -- she lived in DC at the time I knew her, and we'd drive up for visits and go to the Smithsonian. Anyhow, the recipe:
1 broiler hen (whole or cut up)
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 stick butter
1/2 teas. salt (approx., to taste)
1 teas. poultry seasoning
1/2 teas. coarse-ground black pepper
1 can low-fat chicken broth (optional)
Boil chicken in large stock pot with water to cover, for about an hour. (Optional: add one can low-fat chicken broth to water.) Remove chicken and debone. (Grandad's version is to leave the bones in, but that's sort of typical of him. The bones in chicken-and-dumplings are a long-standing goodnatured bit of contention between him and my mother. And deboning a boiled chicken still scalding hot from the water is someone of a tricky and tedious operation; I remember that much from my childhood!) Put flour and salt in large bowl and cut in butter (or mix with hands) until flour is crumbly. Make a well in the middle, and add one cup broth from the pot. Mix lightly by hand or with fork, knead into firm ball -- the ingredients are nearly those of pie crust, but unlike pastry, these should be kneaded enough to be reasonably tough. Add flour as needed to prevent stickiness. Roll out fairly thin (about 1/8" or so), cut in 1/2" wide strips, and place slowly in boiling broth. Return chicken to pot, let simmer until dumplings are done (about 45-75 minutes). You can determine if they are done by cutting one in half with a fork and looking at the middle.
The resulting broth is thick and creamy in texture; the dumplings sort of melt into it at the outside, and it's more nearly gravy than broth, with chicken (more shredded than in chunks) and thick noodle-like dumplings in it.
Serve with turnip greens, probably, or green beans, or some other sort of Southern vegetable that's been cooked until properly done.