Wednesday, September 06, 2006
J said: you're making what? A grunt. A what? A grunt--you know, like a slump. He replies: Ohhhh-kaaayy, with a skeptical look--who is this crazy woman and why did I marry her?
A close cousin of the cobbler, buckle, slump, and pandowdy, the grunt is a traditional New England fruit dessert. Reports vary, but the name is either due to the sound the fruit makes as it cooks and the air escapes or the sound people make when they eat the dish. Hmmm...I'm not above the occasional moan over a delectable dessert--but a grunt? I really hope not--at least not in polite company.
The reason I went the grunt route (other than the ridiculous name)? You cook it on top of the stove. As the oppressive heat continues here in LA--and I remain without air-conditioning--I couldn't bear the thought of turning on the oven. I was skeptical of the dumpling topping at first (fearing stovetop sliminess for some reason), but I needn't have feared. They were densely buttery and held up to the fruit quite well, and due to a large amount of baking powder, they puffed impressively.
Rhubarb and raspberries pair quite nicely, with the latter providing a sweet balance for the former. By the way--anyone have rhubarb procuring tips? I've looked for it at the market all summer and this Sunday was the first time I found it.
for the fruit:
4 c. chopped rhubarb, in 1/2 inch pieces
A pint or so of raspberries
3/4-1 c. sugar, depending on your sweet tooth
squeeze of lemon juice
sprinkle of cinnamon
pinch of salt
for the dumplings:
3/4 c. all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
1/3 c. 2% milk (or whole)
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
Mix all of the fruit ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, stir together the milk and butter. Gently stir the milk-butter mixture into the flour mixture. Set aside.
Pour the fruit into a largish cast-iron skillet (or similar skillet with straight sides). Cover, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce to simmer, and let cook for approx. 8 minutes.
Drop 6-8 dollops of batter on top of fruit mixture, spacing them evenly. It may not look like a lot, but trust me--it works. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until dumplings are cooked through--about 15 minutes. Serve warm, though your leftovers will taste great right out of the fridge.
For more history on old-fashioned American fruit desserts, as well as some thoroughly modern recipes, check out this article in Grit magazine