I thought of my Dad the other day when his sister, my Aunt Kathy posted on FB that she was making plum dumplings for dinner. Its a Slovene dumpling that is just a few simple ingredients and served with soft butter on top. I decided to turn up the volume a bit and made a brown butter herb sauce to toss them in before serving. A bit less fat than a pat of butter per dumpling and some herbs for brightness and green. OMG were they good. My grandmother, heck even my mother would likely snort and chortle at the idea, but it REALLY WORKED.
The recipe itself is generations old. The actual roots are obscured to family lore. My Dad had them as a kid and made my Ma make them for him as a treat in the fall when the tiny "prune plums" came ripe. Dad would likely even know the Slovene name, google translate calls it "plum cmoki" which is nothing I ever recall hearing growing up.
I made them some 25 years ago for my then fiance. We liked them, but never made them again until that nostalgic twang struck the other day. Why you may ask...they are labor intensive.
The dough in looking at the recipe isn't that much unlike an Italian gnocci. With Slovenia and northern Italy next door neighbors the ancient roman influence could well be the ancient root of this dumpling dough. Just a wild arsed guess.
Plum Dumplings in Herbed Brown Butter Sauce
- 8-10 small ripe plums
- 1 c hot mashed potatoes
- 1 1/4 c flour
- 2 T melted butter
- 1 egg beaten
- 1/2 salt
- Bench flour - scant cup
- 1/3 c sugar
- 1 t ground cinnamon
Brown Butter Herb Sauce
- 1 stick butter
- 1 T minced parsley
- 1 T minced mint
- Pinch of salt to taste
In stand mixer add mashed potatoes, flour and 1/2 t salt. Whiz a minute or so until flour is well dispersed. With mixer on low pour in melted butter then the egg. Mix just until a soft dough comes together. Let rest 5 minutes.
Bring a large stock pot, 4-6 quarts of water with salt to a boil.
Half the plums and remove the pits. Use the "plumber crack" groove on the plum as a guide to halve your plums precisely. Take a piece of dough the size of a walnut and flatten. Place a plum half in the do cut side up. Add 1/2 t cinnamon mixture. Bring up the edges of the dough and seal all seams. Roll dumpling in flour and set on a tray to rest while you make the rest of your Repeat with remaining dough, plums and cinnamon/sugar mix.
Place dumplings in the salted boiling water. They will sink. Stir gently at first so they don't stick to the bottom and tear. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook 20 minutes stirring occasionally. The will float to the surface as they cook.
While dumplings cook make the Herbed Brown Butter Sauce. Take stick of butter and put in large skillet over medium heat. Stir as the milk solids begin to foam and brown to prevent scorching. When the butter is browned, reduce heat to low and add the minced herbs. Cook stir in and taste for seasoning and add a pinch or two of salt. Place the cooked dumplings in the browned butter and herbs turning to coat.
Step by Step dumpling making:
flatten walnut sized piece of dough until about 1/8" thick, about twice the diameter of a plum half
spoon in scant 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon sugar into the hole left behind by the plum pit
Pull dough sides up and over the center of the plum, sealing edges to form dumpling. Be gentle so you don't tear the dumpling skin.
Roll completed dumpling in flour and set aside on a clean tray to rest
After putting dumplings in the boiling water allow the water to come back up to a boil. When it does reduce heat to a simmer. A Hard boil will cause the dumpling skins to burst and leave you with a giant mess.
Use a slotted spoon to remove the dumplings from the boiling water. Let excess water drip off and slip the dumpling into the browned butter. Turn carefully to coat so you don't tear the dumpling skin.