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#1216 - Dumplings

January 7, 2013 - Radio Kitchen - Dumplings

Welcome to Radio Kitchen, I'm Al Spoler.   A few weeks ago I made sour beef and dumplings for some friends, and it reminded me how comforting a dumpling can be.  These little balls of cooked dough are simplicity in itself, and their ability to warm the cockles of are hearts in all of proportion to the work it takes to make them.  And Chef Jerry Pelligrino of Waterfront Kitchen, winter is a great time to visit this topic.

1.  The dumpling is as universal as the little meat pie and the croquette.  We couldn't find a cuisine that didn't have some form of dumpling.

2.  Basic definition:  a cooked ball of dough based on flour, potatoes or bread that may or may not be filled, that may be savory or sweet, that may be boiled, or steamed, or fried or baked.  In other words, there is a lot of leeway.

3.  Starting with the sour beef and dumpling version:  these are potato dumplings made with a crouton in the middle (which absorbs excess moisture).  You make some mashed potatoes, add salt, pepper and an egg, mix together, then gradually start adding flour until it become dough-like.  You're going after a dumpling dough that can be rolled into a ball and keep its shape.  Start with a crouton, and work
some dough around it.  You want a 2" ball.  You then simmer the dumpling in chicken broth, and cook it until it rises to the surface.

4.  Variations to this basic recipe come fast and furious.  You can work with grated potato (squeezed dry).  You can use 100% bread crumbs, moistened with milk.  You can use corn meal.  Grated onions can show up, as can grated cheese. Your relatives may disagree with you on how you made your dumplings, but there are no dumpling police.  If it tastes good, you done good.

5.  Here are some of the international variations: 

~the British and Irish version mixes suet and flour, resulting in a lighter, airier dumpling.

~the Italians make a stuffed dough called "ravioli"

~in Sweeden the "pitepalt" is made with salted pork, and the dumpling is  served with butter and lingonberry jam.    

~in Germany, they make a very eggy batter that is dripped into bubbling broth to make the famous spaetzle.

~Jewish cuisines boasts the kreplach, the matzo ball and the knish...dumplings all.

~in Latin America they use a mixture of plantains and yucca to make
their dough.

~in China they have the "wonton" which is filled with finely minced meat and
vegetables and wrapped in a thin dough skin, then steamed or boiled.

~and finally, Indian cuisine gives us the "samosa" which is similar to the
wonton, except that it is fried.

~And the American hushpuppy, when made with a little sugar and served with maple syrup is a classic sweet dumpling.