Lamb stew with dumplings
Sometimes, all you need in wintertime is a good wholesome bowl of hearty stew. The very kind your mum or gran would serve up. No fancy accompaniments, just good old ‘stick to the ribs’ fare that’ll warm both heart and soul.
Every family has their own ‘must haves’ when it comes to the staples like stew and dumplings, and this is my version, but feel free to adjust to your own taste. Pretty much any root vegetable will work wonderfully and you can sub the lamb for beef if you prefer. Please also experiment with different herbs and spices, I’ve kept my stew quite simple but given it a bit of pizzaz with a dash of red wine which gave it a wonderful richness.
300g thickly sliced bacon, diced
1kg boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 2 inch chunks
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup plain flour
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 cup water
4 cups beef or lamb stock
2 tsp sugar
4 large carrots, cut into 1 inch chunks
4 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
1 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup red wine
125g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp baking powder
water, to make a dough
Using a large casserole dish or pot, saute the bacon,remove and set aside, reserving the bacon fat. In a large mixing bowl place the lamb, salt, pepper, and flour. Toss to coat the meat evenly. In batches, toss the meat in the flour to coat evenly, then brown in the reserved bacon fat.
Add the garlic and onion to the pan and cook until the onion begins to color a bit. Deglaze the frying pan with 1/2 cup of water and add the garlic-onion mixture to the casserole, along with the reserved bacon pieces, beef stock, and sugar. Add the carrots, onions, potatoes, thyme, bay leaf, and wine to the pot and simmer for 2 1/2 hours, or until tender.
Half an hour before the end of cooking, add the dumplings. To make the dumplings, sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Add the suet and enough water to form a thick dough. With floured hands, roll spoonfuls of the dough into small balls. Gently place the dumplings on top of the stew and cover with a lid before simmering for the remaining half hour. Check for salt and pepper before serving.