March 06, 2021

HERITAGE RECIPE: Brown Dumplings

If you only knew how much time I spent trying to choose a heritage recipe today! I need to start choosing and cooking recipes several days in advance, but I'm a procrastinator.  I really wish I had some sort of fun information to share about the person who submitted this recipe, but I couldn't find much about her.

This recipe was submitted to the Rockwood, Michigan Area Historical Society by Joanne Stuivenberg in memory of Lottie Sachse. Joanne passed away this past August at age 81. I googled and fell down a rabbit hole of ancestry websites, and I still came up with nothing about Lottie (except that I learned Lottie is a nickname for Charlotte).

However, this recipe looked good to me and I had the ingredients at home already.

I had a lot of questions when I read through the recipe for these dumplings, but I think I made them correctly because they turned out amazing! They are basically dumplings in an onion gravy. I was picturing more of a dumpling and potato soup when I read the recipe, but I believe the potatoes were meant to be a thickener for the broth. 

As always, I followed my own rule of preparing this exactly as written in the cookbook (interpreting the best I can for the things that aren't very clear). I'm going to write this out how it's presented in the cookbook, but make sure you read my notes afterward.

Here is a printer-friendly version!

Brown Dumplings

2-1/2 qt. water
6 med. potatoes
1 lg. or 2 med. onions, chopped
1 T. oil
salt and pepper to taste

Put potatoes on to cook. At same time fry onion until it is deeply browned. Add one cup of water to onion before adding mixture to potatoes and water.


5-6 c. flour
1 egg
salt and pepper

Add enough water to the flour and egg to form a soft dough. Drop by teaspoonful into potato-onion mixture and cook until tender. The dumplings will turn brown. (In memory of Lottie Sachse.)


Like I said, I had a lot of questions when I read this. Do I peel the potatoes? Dice them, slice them, leave them whole? How should I cook them? And 5-6 CUPS of flour? That's a lot!

I assumed that I would boil the potatoes in the water. I debated with Jerry about whether to leave the skins on or off. Since it's an old recipe, I thought maybe leave them on (people were far less wasteful than we are now, and I imagine they kept the peel on); however, because there weren't any other vegetables in there for different textures, I thought the peel would be odd.

I decided to peel the potatoes, and it was definitely the right choice! I diced them into bite-sized chunks, dropped them into the water and let them boil when I prepared the onions and dumplings (after the water came to a boil, I reduced the heat to a simmer).

I used two medium sized onions and cooked in the oil over medium heat, stirring frequently, until they were "deep brown". I didn't want the heat to be too high because burned onions aren't the same as caramelized onions.

My mom makes chicken paprikash (chicken and dumplings with a paprika-sour cream gravy) and I figured that I would make the dough to be the same consistency as hers. First, I beat the egg a little in a large bowl, then I added 5 cups of flour and 1 tablespoon of salt. I added a little water at a time, stirring until the flour was all mixed in. This is the consistency that I was going for:

When the onions were cooked to the point of being sticky and brown, I added a cup of water (from the faucet, not from the potatoes) to the pan to deglaze. Then I poured the onions into the pot with the potatoes. I set the heat on medium and began dropping the dumplings in. I thought that there was no way I'd be able to fit the dumplings--it didn't look like there was enough broth. I scooped out 1 tsp. of dough at a time and dropped it in--it felt like it took forever!

The dumplings cook super fast, so as soon as I was done dropping the last one in, I reduced the heat to low and stirred the dumplings for a minute. I realized that the broth was getting thicker and the potatoes were getting smaller, so I either way overcooked the potatoes, or they were meant to break down and thicken the broth. I tasted it and it definitely needed salt--I added a tablespoon of salt to the pot.

In the end, I wound up with a pot of perfect dumplings in a nice onion gravy. The whole family really liked this and said they would definitely eat it again. It reminded me of my mom's beef and sliders, so I think pot roast would be great with it. For next time, I think I'll add some beef bouillon cubes to the water with the potatoes instead of the salt. I will definitely add more onions--I'll probably use four medium onions instead of two. Other than that, though, it was great as-is!

1 comment:

  1. The whole dish looks delicious -- and those onions! *Chef's kiss* Fabulous! My father had an "Aunt Lottie" who was actually a cousin and a wonderfully sweet woman, so I have a soft spot for that name. :)


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