#4: Smoked Desert Dumplings

The girl got so excited at the idea of cooking dumplings that she insisted we try and make this one, but it’s hard to tell what it actually is. Looking at the picture, it seems to be a ruddy soup with floating dumplings, and according to Thottbot the one ingredient players need to make it is “Worm Meat”. Hm.

Girlfriend suggested we split the work up. She’d do the smoky, fleshy dumplings if I made the soup. ‘FINE,’ I said, throwing a bowl at her in anger.

Here’s how our recipe worked out.

For my soup base I figured something ruddy, smoky and desert-y would be Mexican Tlalpeño soup. It’s a chicken-based soup with garlic and lots of chipotle. It’s also quite thin, which is what we want in this situation because heavy meat dumplings sat in a gooey purée would be nasty.

For the girl’s dumplings we ended up deciding on sausage meat, both because it sounded like a good fit and sausages are kind of worm-like. Words can only fail to describe my terror when I realised we were putting sausage in a soup built from chicken stock, but after I passed out the girl brought me round with some smelling salts and told me it was going to be fine. I believed her, in my innocence.

Here is what my girlfriend squeezing meat out of a sausage looks like.

Yep.

Ew.

Anyone want to learn how to make traditional English/Irish/Bavarian dumplings? Pay attention, then. First, make your meaty centres-

Cook them in the oven, then sit them in their uncooked, bready casings-

Before wrapping them up tightly-

And then finally you boil them to finish the process. While the girl did that, I was wrestling with a soup base which was insisting on being flavourless. Eventually I beat it into submission with powdered chipotle and coriander leaves. Yes, powdered chipotle. Screw you, American readers. You will never know the pain of Mexican cooking in Europe.

When the dumplings were finished we dropped them into the waiting Tlalpeño soup along with the avocado slices that traditionally accompany it. THE SPICY RESULT:

Oh man. Oh, man, was it ever good. Against all the odds, this was honestly the best thing we’d cooked in months. The fresh, light heat of the soup complemented the heavy smoke of the dumplings perfectly, with chunks of carrot and avocado providing a welcome change of texture.

If you make anything from this article, make this. I swear to God, you can actually feel yourself gaining 2148 health over 30 seconds.

Smoked Desert Dumplings recipe:
Serves 3, approx £4 per person

Soup:
2 litres Chicken Stock
3 Cloves of Garlic, chopped
1 large Chilli, chopped
1 large Carrot, chopped
1 Avocado
Juice of 1/2 Lime
One heaped tablespoon of Tomato puree
Chipotle (powdered, seasoning or- gasp! the real thing )
Fresh Coriander

Dumplings:
4 big sausages
2 onions
1 egg
Breadcrumbs (about 4 slices of bread’s worth)
Two heaped teaspoons of Spicy Paprika
A dash of milk
Flour, for dusting

1: Begin with the meaty dumpling cores. Slice open the casings of your sausages and squeeze out the flesh into a bowl. Dice one of your onions and add it to the meat, along with 1 teaspoon of your paprika.
2: Roll the sticky meat into 8 or 9 balls and grill them for 15 minutes, turning once.
3: Meanwhile, create the outer layer of your dumplings. Blend or dice the second onion and your bread, then add the egg, the second teaspoon of paprika as well as some of the chopped coriander leaves and some salt and pepper. Mix it all up with your hands. If it still seems too crumbly, add a splash of milk. If it’s too wet, sift some flour in. You might end up alternating milk and flour once or twice. That’s fine.
4: Remove the meat from the oven. As seen in the above photos, flatten some of the outer layer mix, place the meat in the centre and wrap it up tight. Keep a small bowl of water handy- if the dumpling starts sticking to your hand, a few drops of water will fix things.
5: Bring a saucepan of water to the boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer. Lower all of your finished dumplings into the water and cover. Boil them for 15 minutes.
6: RIGHT! Soup. Take your biggest saucepan and fry your chopped garlic and carrots in cooking oil, on a medium heat, for 5 minutes. Then add the 2 litres of chicken stock, chopped chilli, lime juice, tomato puree and some salt and pepper. Finally, add chipotle to taste. You’ll probably end up adding a lot.
7: Chop the avocado. Add the dumplings, avocado slices, and a mass of chopped coriander to the soup. Careful you only add the avocados just before serving! If they get cooked for even just 15 minutes avocados can abruptly become overwhelmingly bitter.
8: Serve! Make sure everyone gets some carrot, avocado and 2-3 dumplings.