The hot weather this summer has made it an especially good season for fruit. The great thing about desserts featuring fresh fruit is that they are so flexible that I have gone an entire summer and made a different dessert almost every weekend. I have combined blueberries with peaches to make a cobbler that was the first dessert from the pizza oven but wanted to try a recipe that is more traditionally for blueberries so I tracked down a recipe for the blueberry grunt. This classic preparation was popular with those who settled the Canadian maritime provinces and the New England states.
Desserts often put to the test the axiom that successfully cooking decent food is only about closely following instructions. Without even considering souffles or custards, pie dough can often confound the beginner. This recipe is a definite exception. As easy or easier than blueberry pancakes–a staple of the kitchen-wary bachelor–this recipe has three basic steps: cook fruit with water and sugar; mix batter; drop blobs of batter onto cooking fruit, cover and finish cooking.
The name comes, I remember hearing from an episode of Good Eats, from the sound the molten blueberries supposedly make as they bubble up through the dumpling topping. I guess if your only distractions from hewing two countries out of one of the world’s least hospitable landscapes are wood-carving, sewing, or staring at a pot cooking on a wood stove eccentric names for dessert can be excused.
The size and shape of the cooking vessel you use will have a direct effect on the physical properties of your blueberry grunt. In a wide, not-very-tall skillet the dumplings will remain distinct from each other but in a higher-sided saucepan like the one I used the fruit and batter will tend to come into a sort of two-layer cake.
Of all fruits blueberries suffer comparatively little when frozen and because this recipe calls for cooking them until they are a sort of pulpy syrup I don’t see a problem with using frozen instead of fresh.
Traditional Blueberry Grunt
Adapted from this online recipe.
- 1 quart fresh or frozen blueberries
- 1/3 C granulated sugar
- 1/2 C water
- a few generous grinds of nutmeg
- 8.5 oz all-purpose flour
- 4 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1 TB granulated sugar
- 2 TB butter
Cook the blueberries, sugar, and water over medium-low heat until most of the skins have burst, and the fruit is bubbling. About fifteen minutes. Stir in the nutmeg.
Prepare the batter by combing the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar and mixing thoroughly. Cut in the butter using a pastry cutter. Add enough milk and stir with a wooden spoon to form a very thick batter. The consistency is right when it takes only a gentle flick of the wrist to release a portion of batter from an upturned serving spoon.
Speaking of which, once the batter is the right consistency and the blueberries have cooked for about fifteen minutes drop the dumpling size portions of batter over the surface of the fruit mixture. Cover and continue to simmer over low to medium-low heat for fifteen minutes. Serve warm.