Clean and rinse the chicken and place in a large stock pot. Cover with water and add the onion, 8 cloves of garlic, carrots, celery, bay leaves, whole cilantro stem, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil and then simmer for an hour and a half, occasionally skimming the foamy scum off the surface.
Remove the chicken from pot and turn off the heat. After it’s cooled, remove fat and pick the meat off the bones and either shred or cut into bite-sized pieces. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper to taste.
Take the cooled broth and strain and throw out the vegetables as they’ve done their duty. Now you need to remove the fat from the broth. If you don’t have a preferred way of getting rid of the fat or lack a gravy separator, you can try the plastic bag method. Take a quart-sized plastic storage bag, pour some broth into it. You will see the fat rise to the top. Snip a bottom corner of the bag and drain the broth, stopping when you get to the fat layer. (You will probably have to do this in batches).
Place the broth back into the pot and add the shredded chicken and lime juice. In a blender, add the can of Ro-Tel, sliced jalapenos, chopped cilantro, and garlic and blend. Add puree to the pot. Now add the cream. Add the cumin, cayenne, then taste and add salt and black pepper. Bring to a boil. While the soup is coming to a boil, make the cornmeal dumplings.
Sift together the cornmeal, flour, baking powde,r and salt. Beat the eggs with the buttermilk and add to the dry ingredients. Stir in the melted butter, jalapenos, and cilantro.
When the soup is boiling, turn the heat down to low and gently drop the dumpling batter into the pot, 1 tablespoon or so at a time. Do not stir. Place lid on top and steam dumplings for 20 minutes.
Ladle the chicken and dumplings into bowls and garnish with cilantro, if you like.
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