If you can find them, use local duck breasts to make these tender, flavorful dumplings. I get mine from Tangletown Farm in Middlesex. I suggest serving these dumplings with a local red wine, such as the Frontenac or Coach Barn Red from Shelburne Vineyards.
For the dumpling dough
- 4 cups whole-wheat bread flour (such as Gleason Grains or King Arthur)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Zest of 1 orange
- 2 cups hot water
For the filling
- Vegetable oil, for the pan
- 2 boneless duck breasts, locally sourced if possible
- ¼ cup fresh orange juice
- ½ cup water
- 2 cups minced kale
- ½ teaspoon each coriander, cumin,
- cloves and salt
For the sauce
- 1 cup fresh or frozen elderberries
- 2 cups water
- ½ cup sunflower or vegetable oil (such as Rainville or Butterworks brands)
- ¼ cup walnuts, coarsely chopped and toasted
- ½ teaspoon each coriander, cardamom, cinnamon and salt
- 1 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
- Prepare the dumpling dough: Combine the dough ingredients in a large bowl and mix until the dough begins to form a single mass. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let the dough rest for half an hour.
- Meanwhile, prepare the filling: Heat a large skillet with a tight-fitting lid over high heat and coat with thin layer of vegetable oil. Add the duck breasts skin side down and cook for 5 minutes, until the skin is well browned. Carefully flip the breasts over and continue to cook for 5 minutes more. Add the orange juice, water, kale and spices. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, adding an additional ½ cup of water if necessary to prevent the pan from getting too dry. Turn off the heat.
- Remove from cooked breasts from the pan, rinse with cold water and finely shred the meat by cutting it repeatedly with 2 knives. Return the shredded meat to the pan, mix with the sauce and set aside.
- Prepare the sauce: Combine the elderberries with 2 cups of water in a small saucepot over high heat; boil for 10 minutes (this removes any toxins in the berries). Drain the berries and rinse well. Set aside. Add the toasted walnuts, ½ cup water, the spices, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup and cooked berries to the pot and bring to a boil. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the sauce begins to thicken. Keep warm.
- Assemble the dumplings: Roll out the rested dough between two pieces of parchment paper to a ¼-inch thickness. Cut the dough into about 8 circles using the top of a widemouthed Mason jar.
- Put a teaspoon of filling in the middle of each dough circle. Wet the outside edge of each circle with water; fold the circle in half so that the filling remains in the center of the dumpling. Pinch the edges of the dumpling together with your fingers to seal.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat and coat with a thin layer of vegetable oil. Add the dumplings so that they are touching but not overlapping. Cook for about 6 minutes, or until they start to brown on the bottom.
- Reduce the heat to low and remove the skillet from the burner. Wait a moment to let dumplings cool and to avoid splattering hot oil. Add enough water to cover the dumplings halfway. Cover the skillet and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes until all water has evaporated from the skillet.
To serve, garnish the dumplings with the sauce.
Elderberries have anti-viral and antiinflammatory properties that strengthen the body’s immune system and help it heal. Their astringent qualities stimulate appetite and improve stomach function. In the tradition of Lewis Hill, a well-known elderberry cultivator and propagator who lived the Northeast Kingdom, many Vermonters still use this healing plant to prepare natural remedies. Photo at left by Carole Topalian, above from iStock.com