Spring may be on its way but we still need warming winter dishes, whether eating at home or in restaurants. The following recipe is reminiscent of school dinners or, at least, how they should have been if prepared and served well and is a popular dish Oldfields. And it’s interesting to note that there’s no powdered stock cube to lift, add to or mask the flavours. Just making sure you use good quality beef and sweat the vegetables properly allows the ingredients to speak for themselves.
If you’re not sure how good the minced beef might be in those plastic-wrapped polystyrene trays, try buying a little rump steak, chopping it into cubes and dropping a few at a time into a food processor until minced, being careful not to over-process.
- 200g best beef mince
- One carrot – peeled and roughly chopped
- One onion – peeled and roughly chopped
- One medium swede – peeled and roughly chopped
- One sprig of fresh thyme
- A little vegetable oil
- One tablespoon of plain flour
- One leek – split down the middle, washed and thinly sliced
- 100g self-raising flour
- 50g suet
- Butter for the swede
- Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
- White pepper – freshly-ground if possible
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (gas mark 4)
Place the carrot, onion and a quarter of the swede into a food processor and blend until finely chopped. Heat a little vegetable oil into a large saucepan (oven-proof if possible) and gently sweat the blended vegetables for five to ten minutes, being careful not to let them brown.
Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix the self-raising flour, suet, sliced leeks and a pinch of salt and add enough water to make a firm but pliable dough – it’ll be four or five tablespoonfuls. Using your hands, mould into dumplings.
Turn up the heat a little under the pan, add the minced beef and brown. Add the plain flour and stir to cook it off for a couple of minutes. Then add the thyme, a little salt and pepper and about half a cup of water; enough to keep it wet. Place the dumplings on top of the mixture and place in the oven for 20 minutes or so, transferring the mixture to a casserole dish if the if the pan’s not oven-proof.
While that’s cooking, boil the remaining swede in salted water for 20 minutes or until tender. Drain, add a good knob of butter, a generous amount of white pepper to taste and then mash.
Previously published in The Northern Echo