festival: Jamaican cornmeal dumpling

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Festival is a fried cornmeal dumpling from Jamaica that is eaten with savory dishes like ackee and saltfish or escovitch fish. We like to eat fried dough with highly spiced food because it takes some of the edge off the heat. The first time I tried to make them they were like little rocks–rock festival without the music! It is hard to find a tested recipe for this dumpling so I developed my own. It only makes 12 dumplings but there are only 10 in this picture because I ate two. This batch came out soft and tender. So good! Festival is best eaten the day it is made, but it can be warmed up the day after in a low oven and still taste great with leftover ackee and salt fish. Or escovitch fish.

Festival or Jamaican Cornmeal Dumpling
Makes 12 dumplings

1 1/4-1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour*
3/4-1/2 cup cornmeal*
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
Pinch of nutmeg, optional
1 tablespoon butter, chilled
1/2 cup cold milk or ice water, plus more if needed
Oil for frying

*Use more flour and less cornmeal for a more tender product.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, sugar, and nutmeg (if using). Cut in the butter. You should get a texture like coarse sand. Add milk gradually, and if extra is needed, add a tablespoon at a time, kneading until the dough is soft and elastic, and the sides of the bowl are clean.

On a lightly floured board, roll the dough into a cylinder and cut it into 12 pieces. Roll each piece into a cigar shape with tapered ends.

Pour 1 inch of oil into a skillet and heat it until small bubbles cover the bottom of the pan. Fry the dumplings in the hot oil until golden brown all over, turning them frequently, about 4 minutes. If using a 10 inch skillet do 6 dumplings at a time. Drain fried dumplings on paper towels. Serve with escovitch fish or ackee and saltfish.