The purposes of this post are threefold:
1-I'm introducing some of you to a magnificent Southern creation fondly known as "peas and dumplins" (adding a "g" to that word would be a travesty--don't even think about it!).
2-I'm providing a step-by-step recipe for my friends who love the dish and want to learn how to make it themselves.
3-I'm making my first submission to Meeta's Monthly Mingle. This month is all about comfort foods, so this is definitely a fitting dish.
I learned this recipe from my grandmother, who serves up peas and dumplins pretty much every day there are fresh peas coming out of my grandpa's garden. I watched, I learned, and now it's one of my favorite go-to side dishes.
The recipe is easy enough, but it does take some finesse and practice to get those dumplins just right. The end result is...well, it's downright comforting.
There are lots and lots of substitutions that could be made here. I used 1% milk because that's what I drink, but just use whatever you prefer. For example, my uncle (who likes to refer to skim and 1% milk as "white water") would probably choose to go with whole milk. The peas can be frozen or fresh, but I would highly recommend fresh if they're available. The type of biscuit is also up to you. I've tried several different kinds over the years, from regular to buttermilk, and from generic to Pillsbury. In the end, the best for me is plain ol' generic.
Brace yourself: I don't use measuring cups or spoons. I know, I know, how dare I! Grandma never uses them, so I don't either. It's all subject to change anyway, depending on your variables.
First, you must cook the peas. I do this by covering them in water in a big pot on the stove and letting them boil for a few minutes:
When they're fork tender...
...I drain the water and replace it with milk:
Use enough milk to completely cover the peas. You certainly don't want the little buggers to stick to the bottom of the pot.
Now add your salt, pepper, and butter.
You can use a little butter...
...or a realistic amount:
This is a Southern dish, after all.
Bring the milk to a boil, keeping a close eye on it. There's not a lot worse than scalded milk all over your stovetop. Once the butter is melted and the milk hits a boil...
...you're ready to toss in your biscuits.
It's time for a confession: I have an irrational fear of opening canned biscuits.
The anticipation of that POP just makes me crazy. The worst is when it doesn't pop at all and you hafta dig at it with a spoon and twist and turn until it finally busts. In the past, I've been a coward and have always gotten someone else to take care of that particular task, but this time I was forced to face my fear.
Pop your biscuits in like so:
Let the milk boil up over them for about two minutes before even touching them. Then go through and flip each one so the other side can cook. Be gentle. This is where a lot of practice comes in handy, especially when you're trying to decide when the biscuits have officially become dumplins. I usually don't let them go for longer than five minutes total. When the biscuits are no longer sticky and look just a little bit tough, it's time to stop. If you take them too far, they turn into little rocks, which isn't good at all.
That's it, you're all finished. If they're done correctly, the dumplins are like little pillows and the peas are soft but still burst in your mouth.
Comfort food, indeed.
February 2, 2008