The weather in London has been horrific recently with bitterly cold winds, rain, snow, hail, fog…YUK. Think of the sort of weather you would least like to be in and we’ve had it. Suffice to say, I’ve been indoors a lot at weekend and doing plenty of cooking. This weekend I really fancied dumplings. Not the delicious dim sum type dumplings you more often think of, I mean the equally delicious, mouth-watering suet dumplings. The suet packaging alone catapults me back to my childhood with both my Grandma and Mum making casseroles and stews on a Sunday with the most incredible smell filling the whole house and lingering until tea time when I would go back for second helpings.
For the 4 person stew I have adapted a recipe from the Two Greedy Italian’s –
About 800g of meat (any red meat is preferable. I used Tesco finest diced beef as it was in the reduced section and a couple of sausages I had left over with the skins taken off)
2 celery stalks
A big handful of cabbage
8 or 9 mushrooms
A large onion
A large clove of garlic
A huge glug of red wine (I used a Merlot)
A carton of passata
A squirt of tomato puree
Some rosemary needles
Half a teaspoon of nutmeg shavings
Salt and pepper
The first thing to do is heat a generous splash of oil in a large pan and fry the vegetables and garlic until it’s nice and soft. This should take about 7 or 8 minutes. Ideally you need a heavy bottomed pot with a lid for this (I got a lovely casserole dish by Le Creuset from TK Maxx for £19 which is perfect!) Once the vegetables are softened, add the meat and cook until it’s browned on all sides.
Pour yourself a glass of wine and add a big glug to the pan bringing to the boil for a minute or so then lowering the heat until the mixture is just simmering away.
Tip in the chopped tomatoes (watch your clothes as nothing gets tomato juice out) and rosemary needles and cook for about 5 minutes, grate in a little nutmeg and squeeze in the tomato purée.
Cook the stew for about an hour without the lid on. Whilst it’s cooking you can make the dumplings… by following the instructions on the box. Take the pan off the heat and add the cabbage and mushrooms using a spoon to submerge them into the juices. I made 8 little dumpling beasties and placed them around the outside of the stew.
Put the lid on the pot and place into an oven at about 180c. I put the pot onto a deep baking tray because if the juices boil over it will make a bit of a mess. Leave to cook for about 20 minutes. When you take your pot out, your dumplings should have grown and be a bit crispy and brown on top.
Season with salt and black pepper and devour.