This January sure is blue, huh? Dull days, chilly drafts, cold feet. There’s a lot to dislike. But January does have some good points, and one of my favourites is the feeling of comfort. Being wrapped up all warm when it’s cold outside is just the best. And there’s nothing more cosy to enjoy inside, than a hot bowl of comfort food. Hearty, wholesome fayre that is good for the soul.
May I present my ‘Chickeny’ Vegetable Stew with Cheesy Mustard Dumplings!
Why ‘chickeny’? Well firstly I apologise to the vegetarians and vegans in the room, as this sort of terminology is often used to describe chicken equivalents. This stew does have chicken in it, but not much. The reason being, I had some leftover scraps from a chicken I had roast the day before. It wasn’t enough to make a meal, but I hate wasting food. I love the goodness of a vegetable stew, and with the fella currently down with Covid, I’ve been feeding him up with all the healthy stuff I can. So, this stew is mostly vegetables, but it has that bit of chicken in there which gives it extra flavour. Let me be clear, you could easily not use the chicken, or chicken stock, and make a perfectly good vegetarian version. And it would only need a couple of tweaks to make a vegan friendly version too ( a cheese equivalent for the dumplings and doubling up in the veg suet instead of using butter). I’ll try and detail this in the ingredients as I know 75% of you would have jumped ahead to the recipe already, and I don’t blame you. Just show me the recipe already!?!
The boozy segment of this recipe is white vermouth. Any recipe that calls for wine can call for vermouth. In fact, I would almost always go for vermouth over wine. The truth is it’s an aromatised and fortified wine, so it’s mightier in flavour and has incredible herbaceous details that wine just doesn’t have. These will contribute an extra level of complexity to your dish. I’ll be honest you could easily use more than the 1/2 cup I’ve suggested. See how you feel on the day.
I did cook this on the hob, hence it’s a stew, despite popping it in the oven at the end to brown off the dumplings. You could have cooked the whole thing in the oven, then it would be a casserole. Please note! If you’re cooking it on the hob, the heat comes from below so you need to stir it every now and again. If you’re cooking it in the oven, the heat comes from all angles so you don’t need to stir as much. I like being in the kitchen, so I tend to hang around there, keeping an eye on food when it cooks, but I appreciate that’s not great for busy people.
I’m a bit of a chaotic cook. And this is a first attempt recipe that I concocted with things I had. I’d suggest you could easily use more cheese and mustard in the dumplings. Everything else worked out pretty good, but I’d love any feedback.
‘Chickeny’ Vegetable Stew With Cheesy Mustard Dumplings
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 bowl leftover chicken scraps
- 1 cup chopped carrots
- 1 cup chopped onions
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 5 tbsp flour
- 1 tbsp thyme
- 1 tbsp rosemary
- 1 tbsp sage
- 1/2 cup white vermouth (I used Noilly Prat)
- 4 cup chicken/vegetable stock
- 2 large potatoes cut into chunks
- 1 swede cut into chunks
- 2 cup broccoli cut into small pieces
- 2 cup cauliflower cut into small pieces
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 pinch pepper
- 140 g self raising flour
- 70 g unsalted butter
- 70 g vegetable suet
- 70 g grated extra mature cheddar cheese/vegan equivilant
- 3 tspn English mustard
- 1/4 cup water
- Fry off the chicken at a high heat in a generous drizzle of olive oil, then remove and put to one side, leaving the oil. If not using chicken for the recipe, just add your oil to the pan.
- Add the onion, carrot and celery to the pan and simmer gently for 3-4 minutes to soften.
- Sprinkle with the flour, the herbs and seasonings and stir until the flour soaks up the oil and coats the vegetables. Simmer lightly for a minute or so.
- Add the white vermouth, turn the heat up to halfway, keep stirring until most of the liquid has gone. It won't take long.
- Add the potatoes, swede, broccoli and cauliflower along with the stock. The liquid should just about cover the vegetables. If some are out of the water it's ok, they will shrink as they cook. Give it a stir and put on the lid. Keep on the hob, on a low – midway heat. Stir intermittently to prevent anything sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- Whilst this cooks, you can make the dumplings. Add the flour, suet and butter to a bowl and use your fingers to work into a crumb. You can make dumplings with either just suet or just butter. I had a bit of both so went with that.
- Grate and add the cheese, along with salt and pepper.
- Make a well and add a little water at the time, working together until you have a solid dough that isn't wet or sticky, but is still mailable. (You can always add a little flour or water if it goes too much one way).
- Spread the mustard over the dough and fold in lightly. Lightly will leave bright, yellow streaks, and concentrated pockets of flavour.
- Separate the dough in 9-10 small balls and roll in a little flour.
- Check on the stew. If the vegetables are completely soft you can move on, but give it some extra time to cook if needed. Stews taste so much better for patience.
- Position the dumplings on top of the stew, being careful to space them out as they grow to about twice the size. Put the lid on and return the dish to the hob. Turn the oven and preheat it to 150
- After 15 minutes you should see the dumplings have risen nicely. Take the lid off and pop the dish in the oven for 10-15 minutes, until the dumplings are all golden and crispy.
- Leave for 10 minutes to meld, then serve in a bowl with a spoon. Snuggle up in a chair with your thick socks on and enjoy the ultimate in comfort food.
- If you can leave some until the following day then I heartily recommend it. Like lasagne, this dish does well for a few hours to soak up.