Us Brits aren’t famed for our culinary treasures.
Leaf through a historical cook book and you’ll find all sorts of strange dishes (deer kidney with dates, anyone?). But there are some gems that we’ve held on to, like shepherds pie, toad in the hole, the roast dinner, and good old fashioned stew and dumplings.
In the winter when I was little my grandma used to make us proper old fashioned chicken stew. Good, honest flavours full of comfort and warmth, and grandmas stew was the best in town. Crammed with chunky carrots, swede, turnip and tender chicken breast, as cheesy as it sounds it tasted just like home. So grandma, this one’s for you.
For the stew
- 4 skinless chicken breasts, cut in to big chunks
- 2 large peeled carrots, cut in to large chunks
- 200g chunky diced swede
- 200g chunky diced turnip
- 3 celery sticks, sliced
- 1 golden onion, finely diced
- 2 bay leaves
- 900ml chicken stock
- 3 tbsp plain flour
- 1 tsp tomato purée
- 2 tsp cornflour, mixed to a paste with water
- Sea salt and black pepper
- Oil and butter for frying
For the dumplings
- 200g shredded Atora light suet
- 100g self raising sifted flour
- 3 rashers smoked streaky bacon, cut in to little snippets
- A handful flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
- A scrunch of salt and generous grind of black pepper
- Cold water for binding
- Dust the chicken with plain flour, salt and pepper and fry in a knob of butter and glug of oil on a medium high heat in a saucepan. Do this in a couple of batches to not crowd the pan, remove from the pot once browned all over and set aside.
- In the same pan add some more oil and the onion, cooking on a medium heat for about 5 minutes to soften a little, then add all the other vegetables and the flour that’s leftover from dusting the chicken, cook for another 5.
- Now add the chicken, tomato puree, stock, bay leaf, seasoning and bring it to a simmer, then turn the heat down and put a lid on it, cooking it for 30 minutes.
- When you’re near 30 minutes cooking time, in a large mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients with a fork, then add little by little enough cold water to bring the ingredients together in a firm dough. Knead it really briefly and then divide in to between 8 and 12 small balls.
- Take the lid off the stew and add the cornflour that’s been mixed with water, this is to thicken the sauce. Let it sit on the hob simmering gently for 10 minutes so it can reduce a little and the cornflour cook in to it.
- Give it a good stir then pop the dumplings on the top of the stew, leaving a little space between them, then put the lid on the stew and turn it down to a simmer and leave it covered to cook for 20 minutes.
- Serve with veggies like peas or broccoli.