“Dumplings” a term which resonates loud and clear here having married into a mostly Bohemian family of Tvrdiks.
For years the tradition in their family was a meal of duck & dumplings always prepared the Monday after duck opener. Clara, my mother-in-law who passed November 2014 was a marvelous cook as was often the case of women from that generation so the cooking fell squarely on her shoulders and she wouldn’t have had it any other way. Those meals were always incredibly delicious. A number of years ago while she was cooking I asked if I could have her dumpling recipe. She looked up hands covered white in flour smiled and said “there is no recipe simply eggs, potatoes and flour till it feels right!” Now as many of you probably recall I have been considered “aromatically challenged” by a Fan Outdoors guest chef and make little if any claim to being able to cook but was unwilling to give up so I next asked if I could measure her ingredients to see what made it “feel right!” With a nod, chuckle and a twinkle in her smile she handed me a measuring cup and off we went. Since that very day I’ve been able to make Bohemian dumplings almost as good as Grandmas actually assuming that responsibility as years passed with Clara nodding a smile of approval as she cut them in half dipping pieces in melted butter.
About a year ago I announced that for supper we’d be having duck. Meal time rolled around the kids and Deb came home and was I in for a surprise. Not feeling like bothering with the dumplings my plan was to have fried potatoes with the duck-much easier or so I thought! Before we sat down each of them asked “where’s the dumplings?” Next I was lectured that “we don’t eat duck without dumplings!” Begrudgingly the duck was eaten but not much of the potatoes so a valuable lesson was learned and one not soon forgotten. What follows now is the second time I have ever shared a recipe and the third time Clara’s dumpling recipe has been put in Fan Outdoors print and as Bob St.Pierre will attest to it is delicious! Both duck and dumpling are long-time family favorites too. So here goes:
Duck: 3-4 ducks, 1 per person, whole w/skin on (I pick and wax them), crock pot (the plastic liners are a must), a couple apples sliced, a couple medium onions sliced, a handful of baby carrots and a bottle of wine (I’ve found Wild Vines White Zinfandel Strawberry to be my favorite It’s inexpensive and sweet). Salt the cavity of each duck and stuff with apple, onion and carrots. Any remaining put on and around the duck after they’re in the crock pot. Pour enough wine over the duck to about half cover them. Turn on low and cook about 8 hours until tender. They will fall apart so use a large spoon to remove them carefully.
Bohemian Dumplings (Clara Tvrdik) 3-5 russet potatoes peeled, boil until cooked c. 30 min. Using a potato ricer – rice the potatoes then allow to cool thoroughly. After cooled measure the potatoes into cups. To each cup of potatoes add 1 cup flour and 1 egg in a large bowl. Hand mix until you’ve a large smooth ball of dough. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
Roll the dough into balls about the size of tennis balls and carefully drop them into the boiling water. Bring it again to a rolling boil for about 30 minutes stirring them until they begin to float or they’ll burn sitting on the bottom. To check cut 1 in half and should be consistent all through the middle not gooey. Melt butter and serve. Cut individually in pieces and smother in butter. Hint: If you make too many put extras in a zip lock bag and freeze. This works well to prepare at a later date.
So now it’s not difficult and really really good -well I like it and so does my family but as I learned the hard way - once made the cardinal rule is duck always always always goes with dumplings!
If you decide to try it let me know what you think!!
PS I cook goose the same way simply cut it in pieces or do it whole breast down! Erik and Chad both put a dinner knife under one side of their plate to keep the butter puddled on one side! Something I tease them about each time!
In memory of Frank & Clara Tvrdik! Loved and missed by so many!