Scottish Dumpling Recipe
12-30-2011, 05:18 PM
Scottish Dumpling Recipe
I was born in Canada, but my parents were born in Scotland. They came here after the war and, one thing you learn early in life when you have Scottish parents, is that while the Scots may be known for many things, Haute Cuisine isn't one of them.
One of the lone exceptions is a wonderful desert called Dumpling. It's sort of a raisin cake, soaked in Jamaican allspice. As a kid, we always had a dumpling at Christmas. Today, I keep the tradition alive by faithfully making one every holiday season.
It's ridiculously easy to make. Grab a large bowl and mix the following:
1/2 cup suet
3-1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 box raisins
3-1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
3-1/2 teaspoons Jamaican Allspice
Pinch of salt (whatever that is)
Water to bind 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 cups
Mix all the ingredients until you have a moist good that kind of looks like concrete with bits of poo in it. I use my wife's Kitchenaid, which makes the job easy. Mixing it by hand will give anyone a good workout, since the dough has to be thick. I mean really thick - like cement.
Once you have it all mixed up, you need to do two things. First, boil a large pot of water on the stove. It's a good idea to put a plate on the inside of the pot bottom, which will help keep the thing from scorching. Obviously, a cheap, tough plate works best.
Next, you're going to need a pillowcase - one that you never plan to use again. You're going to tie the corners of the pillowcase so you wind up with a sort of rounded bag shape, then you pour the wet dough into the pillowcase. Give yourself some slack at the top, and tie it off. Then, you pat the dough into a more or less round shape, and gently lower it into the boiling water. Watch you don't have too much water, and get overflow all over the stove (and yourself).
Now you boil this for 2-1/2 hours. Every now and then, you'll want to check and add more water as necessary so it doesn't scorch.
Just before it's done, pre-heat the over to 300 degrees.
Once your dumpling is finished boiling, you take it out of the water and drain it as best you can, then open up the pillowcase and remove the dumpling, putting it on an oven-friendly plate or platter. Then pop it in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes so it dries out. Then take it out and leave it on the stove top to cool. After it has sat for a half-hour or so, you can cover it with a tea towel, which helps to keep it from totally drying out.
The end result should be this brown, cakey thing full of raisins. You can hack off a slice and eat it raw, or to enjoy it in true Scottish style, fry up a bunch of bacon. When it's done, remove the bacon from the pan but leave the grease - all of it. Flop the dumpling slices right into the bacon grease, and fry them for about three or four minutes per side. They'll suck up the bacon fat like a sponge, and a really good thing becomes all that much better. Sure, eating this thing will likely take a few days off your life - or give you a heart attack on the spot. But dammit, it's tasty. Surgeon General can kiss my butt on this one.
And there you have it. It may be a bit of an acquired taste, but to many people, it's the best part of the holidays.
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