• Simon Mckenzie

The Great British Dumpling: a long lost friend

These great little balls of dough, often overlooked as stodgy, heavy accompaniments are a great winter warmer – especially if done right.

As always you need to think about what you’re going to make, my two winter warmers and go to dishes are mince British beef and dumplings and my favourite, boiled ham and dumplings.

I use the same method for both dishes; make the basis of the dishes – so for mince beef, cook sliced onion, add the beef and cook until “bobbly”, add stock/water and Bisto or whatever your go to base is and finish the sauces as normal. I will go into more detail on how I cook my favourite in another blog soon.

So to the dumplings – the recipe on the side of the suet packet is a good rule of thumb as a starting point, however we need to get creative to stop the sogginess coming through.

Here’s my recipe for grain mustard dumplings with boiled English ham;

100g suet

200g Self Raising Flour

3g Salt – table is fine

10g vegetable oil

25g grain mustard

5g finely sliced flat leaf parsley

110g ham stock


Let’s start at the beginning – grab a piece of gammon, smoked or unsmoked, and let it wash in cold running water for a an hour then let it soak for an hour. Repeat this and then place in a pan and cover with cold water. Add some herbs and maybe a couple of cloves if you like. Pop a lid on and bring to the boil, simmer until cooked.

This isn’t that daunting, rule of thumb, stick a carving fork or a thin knife through the meat, if it slides off its cooked! Allow to cool in the liquid for half an hour then remove and cool both separately. The cooking liquor is golden nectar.

Mix all of the dry ingredients together then add the liquid, roll into 25g balls or there about (you may need to flour your hands as the mixture should be slightly sticky).

Now you have a choice – either go crusty and drop your dumplings in an oven proof dish along with your choice of meats.

Place in a preheated oven at 180 oC for about 20-25 mins and you will have crusty dumplings on the top and lovely light and fluffy dumplings under the sauce.

Otherwise bring a small pan of stock up to the boil and drop to a simmering level, add the dumplings and another trick here – when they float they are cooked.

Remove and drain from the stock and serve.

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