Sunday was my birthday and so I fancied cooking something satisfying but low-effort. Alberto was working late so I also wanted something tasty that could just easily bubble away until he got home. My friend Phil had cooked this for me about a month ago and so I got the recipe from him and thought I’d give it a go. The other incentive was that I’ve never made dumplings before and wanted to try them.
The recipe is fairly easy and straightforward and you can pretty much add, or subtract, whatever veg you like. The original recipe called for turnip but I left it out in favour of extra swede. (because I happened to have some that needed using up!) I have to confess that my original dumplings went awry – I made them too wet and after 10 minutes they just weren’t cooking, so I hoiked them off the top, chucked ‘em in the bin and made some more, drier, ones. The only slight drawback was that I’d put chopped thyme in the original ones but I was in such a hurry to make the second lot (and so hungry) I forgot to chop any more thyme. Important dumpling lesson – don’t make ‘em too wet!
For the stew:
650g of lamb shoulder, roughly diced
2 onions cut into chunks
2 leeks, peeled and cut into large chunks
2 carrots washed and cut into large chunks
1 parsnip peeled and cut into large chunks
1 swede, peeled and cut into large chunks (I used about ½ a swede as that’s what I had to use up)
2 large potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 – 2 pints of Lamb stock
80g of pearl barley
2 tablespoons of tomato puree
2 teaspoons of dried herbs
3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme
Salt and pepper to season
For the dumplings
(This amount is to make 8-12 dumplings – waaaay too much for just Alberto and I, so I halved it and made 6 smaller ones)
250 g self raising flour
125 g shredded beef suet
Salt and pepper to season
Water to bind (not too much now!)
Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the lamb and brown all sides
Add the onion and leeks and cook over a medium heat until softened.
Once softened add the vegetables, pearl barley, garlic, herbs, tomatoe puree and the stock
Bring to the boil then turn down and leave to simmer with the lid on for around 2½ hours until the meat is tender, the pearl barley is soft and the vegetables are cooked through.
20 minutes or so before the stew is ready, make the dumplings.
Mix the flour and suet in a bowl and season to taste
Slowly add enough water to bind the flour and suet together but without making the mix too wet.
Shape into balls.(You may want to put flour on your hands before doing this to stop the mixture from sticking.)
Add to the stew for the last twenty minutes leaving the lid off the pan so they can rise without being restricted.