END OF WINTER VEG STEW WITH NETTLE DUMPLINGS
This stew celebrates British ingredients available as we come to the end of winter. Swede, shallots and mushrooms are wholesome and bring sweetness and earthiness. Good beef stock gives body, but you could substitute veg stock if you prefer. Similarly, beef suet, the fat around a cow's loins and kidneys, makes luxurious dumplings but you could use a vegetarian alternative. The star ingredient in the dumplings is nettles, giving them a wonderful green colour and vitamin C kick. Use gloves to pick the tips of young nettles.
Ingredients – serves 4
For the stew
3 tbsp oil
1 small Swede, peeled and chopped into 2cm dice
300g Shallots, left whole, peeled
4 sticks celery, roughly chopped
3 sprigs thyme, leaves picked
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
200g Button mushrooms
600ml Organic Beef stock
For the dumplings
125g Self raising flour
60g Beef suet
60g Young Nettle tops, blanched and finely chopped
Nettle cooking water to bind
Preheat oven to 200C
Toss the swede in 1tbsp oil, season with salt and roast for 30 minutes
Heat the remaining oil in a heavy based casserole dish on a met-high heat. Add the shallots, season with salt and caramelise for 5 minutes. Add the celery, thyme and garlic and allow to soften for 5 minutes over a medium heat. Then add the mushrooms whole and increase the heat for several further minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Add in the stock and roast swede and simmer gently with the casserole lid on while you make the dumplings.
In a mixing bowl combine the flour, suet and nettles. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in enough nettle cooking water (approx. 75ml) to form a soft dough. Use your hands to form the dough into 8 small round dumplings.
Remove the lid on the stew, place the dumplings spread out over the surface of the stew and then pop into the oven for 15minutes, then remove the lid and cook for a further 10 minutes.
Serve the stew with wilted seasonal greens, such as hispi cabbage