When Europeans settled North America, they brought with them any number of useful and beloved things, particularly culinary habits, and when they couldn’t find quite what they needed, they adapted for their new home. From the pies, tarts, clafoutis, and steamed puddings of Europe came cobblers, crisps, slumps, grunts, buckles, pandowdys, bettys, and pot pies, all variations on a theme improvised with fresh, seasonal fruits and crusts, biscuits, and dumplings. Most of the variations with which we are familiar date to the nineteenth century, when they were family dishes, easily and quickly prepared in the kitchen or over a fire with primitive equipment.
The grunt and the slump are more closely related to the steamed pudding than pie, and involved a stewed fruit filling topped with dumplings and cooked stovetop. The two seem to be mostly interchangeable, though some sources assert that a slump is cooked stovetop, while a grunt is the same thing, but cooked in the oven. It is also said that the slump is named for the sloppy appearance it presents on one’s dish, while the grunt is named for the noises it makes when cooking. They are essentially steamed cobblers, whatever else they might be.
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