Dumplings are the quintessential comfort food. According to the website The Kitchen Project, the word "dumpling" goes back to Norfolk, in eastern England, circa 1600. However, the actual origin is unknown. What is known is that dumplings were first used to fill people up when meat was scarce, and that means they were a staple of peasants who regularly had to scrounge for food, especially meat.
Dumplings are made of a simple dough that is steamed or boiled, and they're dropped, not cut out like biscuits. (Biscuits can also be dropped, but they are always baked in the oven. But the dough is similar to dumpling dough.)
Dumplings are mostly eaten in colder climates like England, central Europe and a part of Italy, reports the Oxford Companion to Food. That would extend to colder climates of the United States, too, but this dish is also a Southern staple in colder months.
These basic dumplings are wonderful in a chicken or beef stew or casserole. Add parsley or chives to the mixture if you like.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup milk
- Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together.
- Add the milk or water and mix to make a batter that can be dropped from a spoon.
- Drop spoonfuls of the batter onto a boiling stew or soup when it is nearly done. Be sure that there is plenty of liquid in the pot but try to keep the dumplings on top of the vegetables and meat or both.
- Cover and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of the dumplings.
Uses for Dumplings
The most common use of dumplings in the United States is in the favorite wintertime comfort food, chicken, and dumplings reports The Kitchen Project. It has been a common family meal on Sundays in the United States for many years. Serve with a hot green vegetable like peas, with chicken, or steamed fresh green beans or broccoli for an easy but filling and healthful menu. A variation on this theme, a bit more sophisticated, is chicken fricassee with dumplings. The same sides would work with this recipe.
Dumplings can also be dropped into a variety of stews and soups and act as they did hundreds of years ago -- as an extender for the meal. They can also enclose something, such as apple dumplings. In this case, they act as pastry for a dessert. All in all, a most versatile recipe to know by heart.