Blind Scouse with herb dumplings

The vegetarian version of Scouse

The vegetarian version of Scouse

When writing menus, you have to be careful not to put the diners off with the descriptions you use. I guess that’s why the flesh of a pig’s referred to as pork. So we debated long and hard before using the term Blind Scouse for this dish as it suggested a visually challenged Liverpudlian when in fact it’s a vegetarian version of a dish developed in Merseyside. The word “scouse” comes from “lapskaus” which was introduced to the area by Norwegian seaman seeking work in the UK and, in simple terms, means meat stew. Scouse or lobscouse came to mean any cheap, unthickened meat stew, usually comprising lamb or mutton but always containing potatoes. And in latter years, a similar dish without meat became Blind Scouse.

There’s no real fixed recipe for this dish but this is the Oldfield’s version. And of course, you could always add a little braised lamb or similar to make a meaty alternative

Serves four

  • 250g self-raising flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 125g shredded vegetarian suet
  • 190ml water
  • 50g cheese – we use Cornish Yarg – grated
  • A handful of chopped herbs – such as chives or parsley or chervil – chopped
  • ½ a leek – washed and shredded
  • Two medium potatoes – peeled and diced
  • ½ a sliced onion – peeled and thinly sliced
  • One carrot – peeled and chopped
  • One stick of celery – chopped
  • A handful of pearl barley
  • A sprig of thyme
  • A small tin of butterbeans – drained
  • Two litres of vegetable stock
  • Salt and freshly-ground black pepper

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt and suet and then gradually mix in the water until you have a dough texture. Add the cheese and chopped herbs and work them into the mixture before shaping the dough into small dumplings.

In a large pan, bring the stock to a simmer, add the barley and drop the dumplings in and allow them to cook for 15 to 20 minutes until cooked through. Remove the dumplings with a slotted spoon.

Bring the stock back to the boil and add the potatoes, onion, leek, carrot, celery and thyme and cook until everything’s tender. Add the beans and warm through, taste and add salt and pepper as necessary.

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