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A classic time-honored favorite: the dumplin’

By Stephanie Williams Dean

Bless Your Spoon

When the menu features dumplings – I’m there. Whether sweet or savory, dumplings are a favorite comfort food.

Chicken and dumplings are comfort at its best – a rich stew with fluffy dumplings made from flour, shortening, and a liquid and then cooked in chicken broth. Dumplings can be homemade from scratch or by taking easy shortcuts. Whether rolled and cut or dropped by the spoonful, dumplings are delicious any way they’re made. The classic meal brings back memories of eating at your grandmothers – a time honored favorite.

As a sweet, dumplings rival even the best desserts. You’ll be hard pressed to bake anything more comforting. Combine biscuit dough with rich syrup and fresh fruit – fall being the perfect time to use apples in your baking. Making the old-fashioned apple dumpling from scratch takes time, so you might prefer a shortcut version.    

My recipes come from some of the darndest places – I’m sure you understand how these things get passed along. A few of today’s recipes came from my other mother, Dot Ann, who was the mom of my best friend when growing up. When Dot passed in her 90s, I was given her recipe file. Included are a couple of her oldies but goodies.       

OLD FASHIONED APPLE DUMPLINGS

6 small baking apples

Dumplings:

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 ½ tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

2/3 cup Crisco shortening

½ cup whole milk

Pare and core apples while leaving whole. Sift dry ingredients together and cut in shortening. Sprinkle on milk and press and knead dough. I do all of this with my mixer. Roll out dough to  ¼-inch thick and cut into 6 squares.

Filling:

½ cup brown sugar

2 Tbsp. softened, salted butter

½ cup chopped, toasted nuts

½ tsp. cinnamon

¼ tsp. nutmeg

In a bowl, combine all ingredients. Fill apple cavities with filling. Set aside any left over. Squeeze and pinch the dough around apple until completely covered. Place covered apples in a baking dish. Pour any remaining filling on and around the apples. Meanwhile begin to prepare sauce.

Sauce:

2 cups brown sugar

2 cups water

¼ cup salted butter

¼ tsp cinnamon

Dash of nutmeg

In a saucepan, combine ingredients. You can substitute apple cider for the water if you desire. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes. Pour on and around apples. Bake in a 375-degree oven for 40 minutes. Worth the effort.

DOT ANN’S CARAMEL DUMPLINGS

1 cup sugar

2 cups boiling water

½ cup sugar

1 Tbsp. butter

In a heavy skillet, melt 1 cup of sugar, and stir until a light brown color.  Add boiling water and stir until sugar dissolves. Add ½ cup sugar and butter and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low boil and add dumplings.

Dumpling:

1 Tbsp. butter

½ cup sugar

3 tsp. baking powder

1 cup all-purpose flour

½ cup whole milk

In a mixer bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add baking powder and flour to the cream mixture while alternating with milk. Drop tablespoons of dumplings into the boiling syrup. Cover and cook slowly about 20 minutes over low heat. Serve warm with whipped cream.

DOT ANN’S APPLE-ORANGE DUMPLINGS

1 stick melted butter

1 cup sugar

1 cup orange juice

½ tsp. cinnamon

1 pkg. crescent rolls

3 peeled, chopped, small Granny Smith apples

Chopped nuts, optional

In a saucepan, melt butter, and add sugar. Add orange juice and cinnamon. Set aside while cooling. Roll out crescent rolls for 8 dumplings.  Peel and chop apples. Roll out the dough. Add ¼ cup apples to each dumpling. Fold and pinch to cover apples. Pour sauce over dumplings. Bake in a preheated 400-degree oven for 20 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

NO FUSS FRUIT DUMPLINGS

1 can any fruit pie filling

1 stick salted butter

1 cup sugar

1 can biscuits

In a saucepan, heat pie filling and butter. When butter has melted, add sugar. When almost at a simmer, pinch off 1 ½-inch pieces of the biscuit and drop in mixture. Cook for 7-8 minutes. Make these with any type fruit pie filling. Top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

BEEF STEW WITH CORNMEAL DUMPLINGS

2 ½ lbs. beef stew meat

All-purpose flour

3 Tbsp. salted butter

1 pkg. beef stew seasoning mix

16 oz. stewed tomatoes

1 ½ tsp. salt

1 ½ cup water

6 1-inch sliced carrots

3 stalks, sliced celery

2 Tbsp. instant onions

Dumplings

1 Tbsp. instant onions

10 oz. corn bread mix

1 Tbsp. parsley flakes

1/3 cup whole milk

Roll the meat in flour. In a saucepan, brown meat on all sides in butter. Add seasoning, tomatoes, salt, and water. Cover and simmer 1 ½ hours or until meat is almost tender. Add carrots and celery, and onions, and cook 20 minutes until almost tender. For dumplings, mix onion, cornbread mix, parsley, and milk. Remove pan from heat, uncover, and drop batter by spoonful on meat and vegetables. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. You can also use flour dumplings with this recipe.

CHICKEN WITH ROLLED BISCUIT DUMPLIN’S

1 boiled chicken

2 cans chicken broth

Canned biscuits

Salt, pepper, and butter, to taste

Debone chicken and add it to broth. To make dumplings, roll biscuits flat and cut into small pieces until 30 small dumplings. Boil chicken with the broth for 10 minutes until thickened. Drop in dumplings one at a time and continue cooking until dumplings are done. Add salt, pepper, and butter to taste. Easy way to enjoy chicken and dumplings.

QUICK DROP DUMPLINGS AND CHICKEN

2 lbs. of chicken

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 cup water

4 small, sliced carrots

1 med. Sliced onion

Dash pepper

1 cup biscuit mix

¼ cup milk

In a large pot, put chicken, soup, water, vegetables, and pepper. Cover and simmer 40 minutes until tender. In a bowl, mix biscuit mix with water. Drop by the spoonful on chicken. Cook for 10 minutes while uncovered. Cover and cook 10 additional minutes.

TURNIP GREENS AND DUMPLINGS

1/3 lb. salt pork

2 lbs. fresh turnip greens

water

In a large pot, cook meat in about 1-inch of water until tender. Add turnip greens and cook until tender. Chop. Add cornmeal dumplings and cook for 30 minutes.

Dumplings

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1 cup cornmeal

2 beaten eggs

½ cup whole milk

2 Tbsp. salted butter

In a mixer bowl, add flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir in cornmeal. Add eggs, milk, and butter to the flour mix. Mix well. Drop by spoonful onto waxed paper. Sprinkle with additional cornmeal. Drop dumplings into simmering greens. Cover tightly and cook for 20 minutes before uncovering.

FAVORITE CHICKEN SCRATCH DUMPLINGS

5 lb. chicken

2 cups cake flour

1 tsp. salt

1 ½ tsp. baking powder

2/3 cup whole milk

4 tsp. melted Crisco shortening

4 cups fresh chicken broth.

Salt and pepper, to taste

In a mixer bowl, sift flour, salt, and baking powder. Add milk and melted shortening. Stir quickly into a soft dough. On a dough board, roll out thin and cut into ¼ -inch thick by 1-inch wide strips. You might need a little flour on board to prevent sticking.

I boil a 5 ½ lb. chicken covered in water and then then remove it when cooking my dumplings. I hand pull and shred the meat. For dumplings, in a deep pan, bring broth to a boil over high heat. Drop one dumpling at a time into the boiling chicken broth. Reduce heat to medium high. Cover and steam for 10 minutes. Cook half the dumplings at one time and remove them to a separate bowl.  Then cook remaining dumplings. Add as much chicken as desired to dumplings. Salt and pepper everything good before serving. They are even better the next day.