Carrots, celery and onion are prepped and ready to go.
The only item I needed to buy were chicken thighs-- which are much less expensive than the chicken breasts that I usually buy. Here we go:
splatter screen. It makes cleanup just a little nicer.) The most time-consuming part of this recipe, was searing the chicken in batches. Five pounds of chicken thighs is a lot!
Transfer the chicken to a plate and remove the browned skin.
Add the butter to the Dutch oven and melt over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, celery, onion, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook until softened, about 7 minutes.
Stir in flour.
Time to make dumplings...
Cook's Illustrated suggests using only whole milk, by the way. (You can substitute unsalted butter if you don't want to use chicken fat.)
Stir the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Microwave the milk and fat in a microwave-safe bowl on high until just warm (do not over-heat), about 1 minute. Stir the warmed milk mixture into the flour mixture with a wooden spoon until incorporated and smooth. Have frozen peas and fresh parsley at the ready...
Return the stew to a simmer, stir in the peas and parsley, and season with salt and pepper. Following the photos below, drop golf-ball-sized dumplings over the top of the stew, about 1/4 inch apart (you should have about 18 dumplings).
Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the dumplings have doubled in size, 15 to 18 minutes.
NOTE: I found that I had to rotate the dumplings, as some were "gummy" for a few minutes longer than others. I think a tight-fitting lid helps, and I did peek a time or two. Shhhhh. It's time to serve. I had to check out the inside of my first American dumpling. Would it be fluffy inside, as Cook's Illustrated promised?
Yes! (Sigh of relief.)
VERDICT: This is a stew. It's a chicken soup, made thicker. The dumplings were fluffy-- though I wish I had gone with my intuition to add fresh chives. I also think buttermilk would be a great alternative to using whole milk. Would I make this again? Ask my boys! Yes, yes, yes! It's hearty. It's comforting. If I skip the dumplings for myself, it's pretty healthy too.