The Grunt is a traditional Acadian dish, made originally by French settlers in a stew pot over an open hearth. The name “Grunt” comes from the burbling sound of the stewed blueberries as they boil. Note that the dumplings will get soft and fluffy, but as they are steamed, will not brown. If you want browned pastry, make a cobbler in the oven, but call it a cobbler, and not a grunt. There’s nothing more disappointing that sitting down to an order of Blueberry Grunt at a restaurant only to discover that someone has baked the thing. And don’t let me catch any of you using canned blueberry pie filling in this recipe, as I’ve seen suggested out there on the Intarweb. Fresh or frozen blueberries only!
Every family in Atlantic Canada has their own blueberry grunt recipe, which is really pretty much just blueberries, sugar and water with sweet dumplings. This recipe comes from Traditional Recipes of Atlantic Canada, which I believe my father collected for me, section by section, from the local gas station, back when gas stations still sold promotional collectibles.
The cinnamon and lemon zest are my additions to jazz up the flavour. The Grunt is meant to be a dessert, but we eat it mostly for breakfast.
1 quart blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1-1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp butter or margarine
2/3 cup milk (soy milk works fine here)
In a large saucepan, heat blueberries, lemon zest, cinnamon, water and sugar slowly until blueberries begin to soften, then bring to a boil. Simmer gently (5 minutes) while making dumplings.
Sift together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Cut in butter and add enough milk to make a soft dough.
Drop dumpling dough, by the tablespoonful, into the pot onto the hot berries (makes approximately 10 dumplings). Cover tightly and cook 15 minutes without raising the lid. I mean it, hands off the lid! Dumplings will double in size.
Serve hot, spooning sauce over the dumplings. Top with cream, ice cream or yogurt.