04 September, 2008

Tender Delicious Dumplings

I love dumplings. Tender little pillowy clouds of dough floating on simmering gravy...what's not to like?

There seems to be two kinds of dumplings in American cooking - rolled dumplings, and drop dumplings. My mom always made the drop kind, so I do, too. Some people think that drop dumplings are heavier and denser than rolled dumplings, but if they can be light and fluffy if you don't mix the batter too much and if you give it time to rest before you drop the batter into the gravy. Here's the recipe I've been using for 30 years:

Fluffy Dumplings

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup milk
2 tablespoons light salad oil

Stir dry ingredients together well with a fork or a whisk. Combine milk and oil, and pour all at once into the flour mixture. Stir briskly with a fork until the mixture is evenly moistened, but don't overmix it. The batter should be sticky, slightly wet, and almost as thick as dough.

Set the dumpling mix aside for ten minutes. Then, scoop out spoon-sized lumps and drop them atop simmering stew. Cover the pot and allow to slowly simmer for 15 minutes. Don't lift the lid and peek at all or the dumplings won't rise! (I cover my pot with a glass lid so I won't be tempted to peek. Lifting the lid really does ruin the dumplings.) makes 8 to 10 dumplings, depending on the size of your scoops.

Some tips:
  1. If the batter is too thick, sprinkle in a little more milk or some water to make it very soft and sticky.
  2. Letting the dumpling mix sit for ten minutes is the secret to extra-fluffy dumplings. During that ten minutes, the baking powder starts to work and makes the dumpling mix start to rise. When you scoop out the batter to drop into the stew, you'll see all the air holes where the baking powder has been working. In the heat of the stew, the baking powder goes into overdrive and really makes the dumplings rise into fluffy, floury puffs.
  3. My recipe is based on the one given in the 1967 edition of the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook (the Chicken and Dumplings recipe is where you'll find it.) The original is horribly bland. This version is still kind of bland, too. If you're not watching your sodium intake, you can add about half a teaspoon of your favorite seasoning salt in addition to the teaspoon of salt included to make them taste better. When I make these for chicken, I like to add half a teaspoon or so of Bell's Seasoning (my favorite brand of poultry seasoning.)
  4. Don't peek when they're cooking! It's the steam and the simmer from the stew that makes them turn out so wonderful. That's why I use a glass cover on the pot - so I don't even get tempted to look.



19 comments:

kittie said...

I've never made dumplings - I didn't even realised there were two schools of thought on the matter!!

I am very tempted though - and with September drawing in, I think this should definitely be on the menu soon...

Bentoist said...

Hi Dave

I've eaten dumplings cooking like this maybe twice or thrice, and have wondered why some tasted more heavy and dense than others. Now that you've explained the difference, I wouldn't mind trying. But first a question, on your ingredients list, you mentioned using baking powder twice. Is one of them meant to be baking soda? Please advise.

Dave said...

bentoist, thanks for catching my typo! That extra bit of baking powder shouldn't have been in there at all. I've edited the post and fixed the ingredient list, which should be OK as shown now.

Bentoist said...

Oh cool! My husband loves comfort food like this but I don't make him enough since I'm trying to lose weight. I think I'll pamper him this weekend with some chicken and dumplings.

Foodycat said...

I am trying not to do too much comfort food just yet - I live in hope that we will get an Indian summer! But when I do there will be parsley dumplings in my stews.

Corinne said...

I loooove chicken and dumplings, comforting memories of childhood in a bowl. And thanks to you, now I know how to make 'em

wkitty42 said...

rolled dumplings? might as well just drop in some egg noodles and forgo the "trouble" as there's not much diff between slightly overcooked flat noodles and the supposed "rolled dumpling"...

i won't even mention that there's absolutely no comparison between flat dumplings and drop dumplings... if you like biscuits, then you'll really like drop dumplings... those other things just have no "body" to them ;)

Anonymous said...

Instead of extra salt I love adding chopped flat leaf parsley for extra flavor!! Yumm!!

kimnkell said...

Hello Dave,
Thanks for posting this recipe. I have been trying to make light and fluffy dumplings for years! I found this recipe on your blog a few weeks ago and have been using it very successfully ever since. I Am making them as I type right now for Christmas Dinner. Thanks Again!
Kim

Mary said...

I'm sure its obvious to wveryone else, but tell me, in the last 10 minutes of cooking do you take the pan off the heat or turn it down or what??

Dave said...

Mary - Keep the pot at a very low simmer and don't turn it off at all until the dumplings are done.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this recipe. A fluffy dumpling that would make my mom proud. Like you mom, mine always made the fluffy kind and I could never quite replicate her dumpling. What was it about your recipe that was different from all the others I tried from on line recipies? Because you took the time to carefully explain the process, not just list the ingredients. I guess the 10 minute rise time and no peaking were the keys to the success of a great fluffy dumpling. I am now an official fan of your site. Thanks again...Tom

P.S. Now I can't wait to try some of your other recipies. I am sure that they are great as well.

Dave said...

Anonymous (Tom) - Thanks, I'm glad I could help.

Kerri said...

I have been making dumplings for years , but they have never been as fluffy as these! Thanks for the awesome recipe, great stuff :-)

Anonymous said...

Made these for my boyfriend and I think I won his heart! His mother passed away ten years ago and he said these we as close to hers hes had!! We loved them~! :) Thanks....

Peej said...

Yummmmmmy! Just like mom's, only a bit better (sorry mom)! I sometimes like to add chives to my dumplings when I'm making beef or turkey dumplings. I can't wait to try that with this recipe!

Thanks so much for the wonderful recipe, Dave!

Jan said...

I just want to say thank you. You've given me some ideas as to why some of dumplings were gooey and some were fluffy and all being from the same batter. I had started letting mine rest. I am thawing out some chicken to give it a try. Again Thanks!!

Mmmmm...cookies! said...

I have to tell you I've been attempting to make light fluffy dumplings from scratch for 25 plus years. My mother had a beautiful knack with them but I had given in to Jiffy Mix. One night out of Jiffy Mix and deep in a pot of chicken stew I turned to the interwebs for help and came across your wonderful recipe. These remind me of my mother's dumplings so much. The first time I made them I took some to her and she heartily approved. Thank you so much for sharing.

IdahoDeb said...

These are incredible! What a fantastic treat. I made them for a larger group of seniors who no longer cook and they were reminded of the days when they made food like this for their own families. Thank you so much Dave for sharing! Deb