I used to think that I knew exactly what dumplings were. They were part of one of my favorite family meals, Chicken and Dumplings. It truly was and still is great comfort food. I especially remember one time that we had Chicken and Dumplings for supper and we got to eat in the den on TV tables! It was Saturday evening and The Jackie Gleason Show was on. Jackie Gleason my Dad’s favorite performer and that was one of my Dad’s favorite shows. Through the years it didn’t take much encouragement for Dad to exclaim, “How sweet it is!” He had the Gleason forward shuffle down to a “T,” as well.
Interestingly, National Dumpling Day is also Eat Dinner with Your Kids Day. That fits quite nicely with my memory from childhood. It was a rare evening meal that we didn’t eat together as a family, and my friends all ate dinner with their families too. I guess now we need a Day to remind us that it’s a good thing to do. Maybe we could combine the two and make it National Eat Dumplings with Your Kids Day!
But I have learned a lot about dumplings since then. I think most every culture has their version of dumplings. Basically anything wrapped in dough and steamed, boiled, pan-fried, deep-fried and yes even grilled can be a dumpling. And while I do sometimes first think of those cake dumplings from my childhood when I hear the word “dumplings,” I now know (and enjoy) a myriad of dumpling types. I have cooked loads of different types of dumplings over the years, and I enjoy coming up with new flavors and twists on traditional flavors for my cooking classes—as well as teaching the favorite standards.
In recent Hemmachef cooking classes we have made Pierogis, Shui Jian Bao, Gnocchi, Wontons, Cheese Dumplings, Gyoza, and I’m sure some others that I can’t remember. In my Dim Sum class yesterday at DelecTable, we made Shoa Mai dumplings, which are not only easy to make but delicious. And my Oktoberfest classes at DelecTable include German dumplings called Schupfnudeln (which I look forward to making again on Thursday).
I have to admit I still love the taste, texture and aroma of cake dumplings, however. Mom used to just put pieces of cut-up chicken in the pot along with a bag or so of frozen mixed vegetables and probably some onion powder and garlic salt. She would cook it until the chicken was falling off the bone, then plop spoonfuls of dumpling batter on top of the bubbling liquid. Ten minutes with the lid off, then ten more minutes with it covered is all it took to finish this wonderful one pot meal.
Nothing will ever replace that evening of Chicken and Dumplings and Jackie Gleason on my list of favorite food memories. That being said, Schupfnudeln are easy to make and one of my new favorite dumplings. Here is the recipe I have been using. These are great with a grilled Bratwurst and an ice cold fermented malt beverage. Prost!
1 pound potatoes
¼ cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons lard or butter
½ cup chopped parsley
Method: Place the potatoes in a pot of water to cover,; bring to a boil and cook until tender. Drain and cool a bit. Peel the potatoes, then rice them or mash them well. Place them in a bowl along with the flour and salt. Make a well in the center of the potato mixture and add the egg yolks. Mix well and knead until smooth. Add a little more flour if necessary (if it seems too sticky). Pinch off a chunk of dough and roll it into a half-inch-thick rope. Cut one-inch chunks off the rope, then roll them between your hands until they’re about two inches long and tapered at each end. Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the dumplings about a minute until they float. Drain well, then fry in the lard until golden brown.