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What is a dumpling to you?

I have found in living in different parts of the country that what constitutes a dumpling can vary greatly. I am not talking about fruit dumplings where fruit is wrapped in a dough and baked and coated in syrup. I am on the track of do you prefer big fluffy dumplings on top of stews etc. slathered in butter, cormeal dumpings cooked on top of greens, like turnip or collards or do you have a tradition of those sliders which are really thick noodles. Mine are fluffy or cormeal depending on the dish, but a big fluffy bready doughy dumpling on top of chicken stew, beef stew or even better ribs and kraut, slathered in good butter is hard to beat. What is your preference?

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  1. I'm with you on big, fluffy, and bready. I was amazed when I first encountered a flat, thick noodle-like thing that midwesterners call a dumpling.

    9 Replies
    1. re: pikawicca

      That's funny, because dumplings in OUR Midwestern family were always the fluffy steamed-biscuit kind. I had to go down South to get the noodlish variety, and I've come to like those once in a while, too. There's a sort of compromise version I found in a Carolina cookbook that I have not yet tried, which consists of biscuit dough rolled out fairly thin and cut into strips.

      1. re: Will Owen

        Same here for my Midwestern family... I'm not sure if I've ever seen the noodle-like variety. Of course, I also think of potstickers when I think of dumplings too!

        1. re: Katie Nell

          Oh, my Midwestern grandmother used to make the best "noodles" for her chicken noodle soup. But, they were sufficiently plump and had enough personality you could call them dumplings. If anyone knows how to make such noodles/dumplings, I would love the recipe.

          ~TDQ

          1. re: The Dairy Queen

            did you get a recipe for these noodles.dumplings? I would like to know the recipe as well

            1. re: smhillen

              Growing up in Georgia, a dish like chicken and dumplings meant the thick dumplings that were rolled out and cut into strips. My grandmother always made up her biscuit dough (self-rising flour, lard, and milk by sight....no measuring) and then rolled out on a floured board to about 1/10th of an inch and cut into strips (1 inch x 1.5-2 inches) then dropped into the simmering chicken and broth.

              Living in Indiana for the past 10 years, the dumplings I've seen tend to be thick, fluffy balls of dough. Otherwise, it's called noodles. Beef and noodles over mashed potatoes is a big one in this area.

      2. re: pikawicca

        Would the noodle kind be like spaetzle?

        1. re: chocolatetartguy

          No, they are big, flat and broad and fat. Sometimes cut into squares and cooked on top of chicken stew and others.

          1. re: Candy

            Or in Indiana they are cut long and thin, and and the dish is chicken and noodles, delish. Same thing, different form.

            1. re: Candy

              do you have the recipe for these noodles/dumplings?

        2. As you well know, I am most certainly a Midwesterner and I will attest that dumplings are fluffly and steamed; those flat dense things are one of the many varieties of noodles we create. And when the weather cools down, I intend to make that most Midwestern of comfort foods: beef and noodles served on mashed potatoes.

          1. I had fluffy steamed dumplings as a girl and i think they were probably from the german side of the family. But from a former Southern life, south florida that is, i've had the noodle kinds, with lots and lots of butter.

            noodles AND mashed potatoes. I declare. that sounds like nosebleed food.

            1. To me dumplings have always been a starchy dough or noodle substance stuffed with something else (usually meaty) like pot stickers, mantu or won tons. I never knew that dumplings existed as lumps of dough in soup until this year! And I was born in America! I have yet to eat this type dumpling, I've just read about it. Man, I wonder what else I've been missing.

              1. Have you heard of doughballs? flour, water,salt and baking powder formed into a ball and cooked with salt beef and vegetables. I distinguish them from the dumplings I grew up with because doughballs have no fat ( shortening, etc). Made well, they are a pleasant enough addition to the boiled dinner, and they're pretty good with stewed fruit as a sort of dessert (also commonly cooked with the dinner might be bread pudding with onions or raisins and "figgy duff", which has raisins and a bit of sugar -- both of these are also dumpling-like but cooked in a cloth pudding bag in with the rest of the dinner).

                I have to add that my mother-in-law made excellent doughballs -- solid but yet light -- but that I myself have had no success at all. Mine are always soggy -- but my dumplings are great!