A much forgotten alternative to suet dumplings
Dumplings are very easy to make – you know, the wonderfully sticky things mixed up from suet and flour that adorn the best of country stews? But lovely though they are, it is all too easy to forget old fashioned dough balls; thick, luscious bread that is steamed floating on the stock. Some might not even think of them in this context, but rather as an accompaniment to pizza at Pizza Express. But trust me, this is the way to go and it is very easy.
Make bread dough from 500g bread flour, 350ml warm milk with 1 tbs dried yeast dissolved into it, 1 tsp salt and 2 tbs olive oil. You can add fresh or dried herbs to the mix if you wish.
Mix and knead the dough as normal then let it rise for an hour or so. Punch it back and then make as many small dough balls (bit smaller than golf balls) as you wish. Use the rest of the dough to make some rough bread.
When your stew is about an hour from finished, put the dough balls on top, just sitting in the gravy. Put the lid back on and bung it back in the oven. Just a note, these swell up, so don’t overfill the pan.
The dough balls will soak up the stock, swell and cook. Once they are cooked, remove the from the stew, place on a baking tray and just crisp them up a little in a very hot oven. They will have soaked in the juices from the stew, so you can imagine how these are going to taste, just on their own.
However, that is not what they are there for, so tear them and dunk them in your stew.
I have also served these on their own in a big bowl with jugs of good, strong ale to get people in the mood!