This is a recipe that I remember my now 97-year-old granny making me quite frequently when I would visit Scotland growing up. I had some lamb that was perfect for stewing and the first thing that popped into my mind was cooking this lamb stew. Damn, I loved eating this so much. As always I put a slight twist on it - she topped her version with choux pastry. I went with the easier and cheaper dumplings.
I was always immersed in food. My father fishes for salmon & trout, my mum was always in the kitchen making marmalade, jams and hearty dishes with venison and pheasant that my dad would also shoot / trade salmon for with fellow hunters. It's no wonder that at the age of 11 I went to my first cooking class. There I was in some local woman's house, just me and 7 or 8 other girls. Gross!! At least that's what I thought at the time. I loved it though, so much so that I was soon cooking the family dinners on a regular basis!
Although when I look back upon it, I'm not sure if that's because I loved it so much or because it gave my parents an opportunity to do tonic "tastings" to see which paired best with their gin...........! FYI it's The Botanist or Edinburgh Gin with Fever Tree Mediterranean Tonic!!
My Cooking Journey
It wasn't just my mum & dad that got me interested in cooking. My aunt Moira, Mum's sister, gave me my 1st cookbook, appropriately titled just that! You would find me in the kitchen making mini quiches, pizzas, chocolate truffles, rice pudding, steamed pudding with golden syrup and many other things. Hold on, now that I list them off now, damn my folks did well!
My grandfather on my mum's side was also a great influence to me. We used to take walks to his bees (he was a beekeeper if you didn't already guess) and on the way I always remember him jumping a wall that at the time looked about 50 foot high and out he would pop with a handful of spinach. Cue the teasing about my little "bird eggs" for muscles and how I needed my spinach to be like Popeye.
On my father's side of the family there was always and I mean ALWAYS something being cooked or baked. They were those grandparents who always had bread, scones, shortbread and some sort of pie/stew on the go. I always remember flying from Dublin to Edinburgh, staying with them and eating my body weight in my Papa's bread. My returning luggage allowance was usually filled with more bread and whatever sweets I could sneak out of the Pantry!
So, just over a week ago my butcher, Steve down at the New Farm markets gave me some lamb butt. Actually from the collar but it's called butt. Weird, I know! He wanted to see what I could cook with it. The first thing that popped into my mind was my childhood visits to Scotland and my Grans lamb stew.
The all-important wine pairing!! This Scottish lamb stew requires something big, bold & hearty because believe me when I say Scotland is cold, it's BLOODY cold!! This stew is packed with earthy flavours from mushrooms to turnips and carrots. Tomato paste helps add more body and those delicious herby dumplings on top make it a complete dish. Hungry yet?
The Monterra Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon maybe big and bold but it's also super smooth. There are plenty of fine tannins that make it great for drinking now but much like the cooking of this stew patience helps! My suggestion is to crack a bottle at the stage when you are covering the stew and cooking for 1.5 hours. It will have opened up beautifully and leave you with flavours of rich berry fruit, a little smokey/cigar, pepper, a little oakiness & olive. Grab yourself a 6 pack now and TRUST me - you won't be disappointed!
If you like this lamb stew and make it I'd love to see your pictures so I can show my Granny and put a huge smile on a 97 year olds face. Tag me @another_food_blogger or pin me on pinterest and don't forget the most important thing and subscribe to stay in touch.
- 1 kg lamb collarbutt or lamb leg cut in 1" cubes
- 200 g carrots (approx 2 large) diced
- 1 white onion diced
- 200 g turnip diced
- 8 mushrooms cut inhalf
- 2 tbsp flour
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 bayleaf
- 2 garlic cloves crushed
- 350 ml orange juice
- 350 ml vegetable stock
- 2 sprigs parsley
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp parsley chopped
- 1.25 cups self raising flour
- 60 g cold butter cubed
- 1/2 cup milk
- Season meat and sear in dutch oven on medium to high heat, approx 5 mins. *see tip*
- Remove meat and leave on clean plate.
- Cook vegetables (except mushrooms) on medium heat for 2 - 3 mins
- Add meat and juices back to pot.
- Add flour and tomato paste, stir and cook for a further 2 - 3 mins.
- Add orange juice, stock, bayleaf & thyme to pot. Cover and cook on low for 1.5hrs until lamb is tender.
- Add in button mushrooms and spoon dumpling batter on top. Cover and cook for another 20 mins on low until dumplings are cooked *see tip*
- Place flour in mixing bowl and using your fingers rub in butter until mixture resembles fine bread crumbs.
- Make a well in center and pour in milk & parsley.3. Stir in gently and then spoon into stew. *see tip*
- dutch oven or large heavy based sauce pan
- chopping board
- measuring spoons/jugs
- wooden spoon
- mixing bowl
- when cooking lamb don't crowd the pan, best to cook in batches. If you put too much in the pan it won't get a nice sear on it and will just look grey
- to test if dumplings are cooked stick a skewer in them, the skewer should come out clean
- if making dumplings for something different you can cook them in just a saucepan of stock
- the stew will keep in the fridge for 3 - 4 days. When reheating it do so on a low heat with a lid on. The steam will moisten up the dumplings again
- stew freezes great, just follow the instructions above to reheat it