Monday, May 3, 2010

Dumplings in mush

I was flicking unenthusiastically through my Edmonds book yesterday, trying to decide what to have for dinner. I really didn't feel much like cooking. When I saw Irish stew (p125), I thought it seemed like a good low-effort dish. Since it's the only stew recipe in the book, I also figured I'd better take the opportunity to cross off dumplings (p132) as well. Stew and dumplings - nothing wrong with that for dinner!

Instead of the hogget chops indicated in the recipe, I used some mutton chops I had in the freezer. These went into a pot with some sliced potatoes, carrots and onions, and a small amount of beef stock. It didn't seem like much liquid for a stew, but I figured some liquid would come out of the vegetables during cooking.

I brought all of this to the boil and left it to simmer for an hour and a half. That was the given time in the recipe, but I suspected the mutton chops would take a bit longer than hogget, and intended to start on the dumplings after the hour and a half was up.

The pot bubbled away merrily for the afternoon while I lazed around watching a DVD. When the timer went off, I got up and mixed up some dumplings. I went to put them in the pot, and found the stew looked a bit surprising. All the potato and the onion appeared to have dissolved, making the stew more like sloppy mashed potato than stew.

Even so, I had no problems cooking the dumplings. Once they were done, I pulled out the chops one by one, removed the bones and chopped the meat into manageable pieces before plonking them back in the pot.

The result: a bowl of mush with chunks of meat and carrot in it, and a dumpling plonked on top. Not at all my idea of a stew, but despite its off-putting appearance, it actually tasted really good. Perhaps Irish stew  is supposed to look like this - I'd just assumed it was a stew much like any other.

As for the dumplings - yum yum yum. I hadn't had any for years, and now I don't think I'll ever make stew without dumplings again. It's a 5-minute job, and it makes for a tastier and more filling bowl of stew. Or mush, as the case may be...

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