Say dumplings in Asia and it means steamed or fried dough with meat or sweet filling. In other parts of the world, dumplings look different, taste different and may be prepared differently too. But all share something in common — the dough.
Dumplings are cooked balls of dough. The dough can be made with any flour — wheat, corn, potato… Sometimes, the dough enfolds a filling. Other times, the dough is flavored with herbs or cheese. Dumplings can be eaten by themselves or served in a soup or with gravy.
The dumplings in this recipe are the kind found in British and Irish cooking. The balls of dough are dropped into a simmering stew where they cook, partly submerged, for 10 to 15 minutes.
I used a mixture of dried and fresh herbs in this recipe. If using fresh herbs all the way, use twice as much when substituting for dried.
Pork and herbed dumplings stew
For the dumplings
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup cold butter cut into small pieces
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
Heat the butter. Add the pork, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook over medium-high heat, turning once in a while, until lightly browned.
Throw in the chopped onion and continue cooking until softened.
Add the rosemary and tarragon. Pour in two cups of broth. Bring to the boil. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for 40 to 50 minutes or until the pork is tender. Taste the sauce once in a while and add more salt and pepper, as needed.
Meanwhile, prepare the dumplings. Rub together the flour, baking powder and butter until the texture resembles oatmeal. Add about 1/4 tsp. of salt, a little pepper and the parsley. Pour in enough ice cold water, one tablespoonful at a time, to bind the dough into a ball. Wrap in cling film and leave in the fridge for about 20 minutes.
When the pork is almost done, take out the dough and form into balls about an inch and a half in diameter.
Drop the balls of dough into the stew. Cover the pan and let the dumplings cook for 10 to 15 minutes.
Note that the flour in the dumplings will thicken the sauce of the stew so check the liquid 10 minutes after dropping in the balls of dough. If the mixture appears too thick or dry, add more broth.
Taste the sauce. Adjust the seasonings, if needed, before serving.
The stew can be eaten by itself — the dumplings serving as the carbohydrate component of the meal. BUT the sauce is so rich and delicious that it just begs to be mopped up with pieces of bread or drizzled over rice.