This has to be one of my very favourite dishes to eat when it’s cold and wintry. My children always ask for it for dinner and it’s so easy to make - they can both make it from scratch! If venison is difficult to find, just replace with beef or lamb. I prefer to use proper suet, so ask your butcher or stallholder to get you some. Keep it in the freezer in small bags and take out as and when you need it. Add whatever veg you like but always include carrots, onions and turnips. Top tip is to keep any leftover gravy to use in stews and casseroles. Remember to pop the lid on after you’ve added the dumplings, 30 minutes before serving.
500g diced shoulder of venison, beef or lamb would be as good
2 local carrots, washed, peeled and diced
2 medium-sized onions, peeled and roughly chopped
1 wedge of turnip, peeled and diced
500ml really well reduced good beef stock
200ml leftover gravy or sauce
½ a cinnamon stick, optional but a hint of spice in winter adds something special.
1 glass of red wine
1 sprig of thyme
1 bay leaf
Good salt and pepper
100g self-raising flour
50g proper beef suet, minced, packet suet would do!
Herbs e.g. chives; horseradish, mustard, optional flavourings for the dough balls
Extra flour for dusting
1 tablespoon cold-pressed rapeseed oil for frying
Add the oil to a hot casserole dish and fry the diced venison until golden brown. It will take a few minutes on high heat. Season with salt and pepper and add the diced carrot, turnip, onions and the cinnamon if you’re using some and fry for a further 5 minutes until you achieve a good colour.
Still on a high heat, add the wine and reduce slightly. Then add the thyme, bay leaf, gravy and stock. Season again and bring to a simmer.
Place in a hot oven (180°C) without a lid for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Then turn down the heat to 150°C and cook for a further 2 hours, stirring every 20 minutes or so to ensure the stew doesn't dry out.
Meanwhile, make the dumplings by adding the flour to a bowl and stirring in the minced suet and salt, then combining with cold water until you have a rough dough. Don't overwork the dough. You can add any flavourings you like such as chopped chives, horseradish or mustard.
Divide the dough into 4 balls - you may need extra flour for rolling as it can get quite sticky - and plop them into the stew pot after the first 3 hours is up and place the lid on. Turn the heat up to 180°C again and cook for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and serve at the table in the dish it’s cooked in.