Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Dumpling Season!

The cool evenings lately signal the beginning of another favorite for me: dumpling season!  It's too warm half the year for steamed dumplings around here, so this is very exciting!  These aren't the dense, labor intensive flat noodle-like things some people call dumplings.  Our fast, simple dumplings are like fluffy steamed biscuits immersed in soup or stew, so the flavors mingle to bring you pure satisfaction. These are total comfort food at the level of mashed potatoes or meatloaf, not a gourmet meal.

NOTE TO SPOTLESS KITCHEN BRIGADE: some photos below may reveal real life. Viewer discretion is advised.

The recipe is fairly simple:
1 c. flour (half can be whole grain)
1.5 t baking powder
0.5 t salt
1T sugar
3T cold butter or lard
about half a cup of milk
Mix the dry, cut in the butter or lard as in biscuits. Do not add the liquid until your pot of soup or stew is simmering on the stove.  I use a covered skillet with sides about 4 inches high to allow room for the stew and space for the dumplings to rise.
Just before the steaming part, add the milk.  The mixture should be moist but not runny. See the picture for consistency.  I goofed and this is a little wetter than normal. Yours should not be more moist than this. You may need a smidge more or less milk than 1/2 cup depending on your humidity and altitude.

If using canned soup (like Progresso) add another 1/2  cup of water or broth to the soup, as these dumplings will absorb water and thicken the soup.  If you don't anticipate this you will end up with something too thick.

I use the basic recipe for stews of all kinds. The picture is left over beef stew with additional water added.  Once the batter is at the right consistency, drop quickly by medium spoonfuls into the simmering stew. Initially the dumplings will sit low in the simmering broth.  As they steam, they will grow in size and rise ad the leavening starts to work. 

You can stay simple or dress these up for Sunday dinner.  For chicken and dumplings, I may add a pinch or two of thyme or sage to the dry batter.  For beef stew, perhaps a dash of dry garlic. 
From the point in the picture above, cover and DO NOT UNCOVER for 10 excruciating minutes. If they don't look like the next picture or even fluffier, cover and allow them to steam for another 2 minutes.

Carefully lift each dumpling with a large spoon and place on plate or shallow bowl with the accompanying soup or stew.  We sprinkle ours with shredded Parmesan cheese, but they are fine without.

You will be rewarded with a meal that may win you over to dumpling season!

1 comment:

  1. Oh, that looks so good! Perfect comfort food for the cold weather that has finally come our way.