Lamb casserole and dumplings

Lamb casserole and dumplingsPerfect for chilly days – this is deluxe comfort food. Takes me back to my youth and makes me feel cosy and warm. And dumplings! This really is a one pot wonder. I used neck fillet which is inexpensive but mouthfillingly tender when either cooked quickly or, as in this recipe from Tesco, slowly. Can be frozen once cooked, so I made a large batch; will be fab for an evening when I have had a busy day but can still serve up something that has that slow cooked yumminess.


Ingredients serves 4
For the casserole
2tbsp plain flour
600g lamb neck fillet, cubed
2-3tbsp olive oil
small knob butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1tbsp tomato purée
700ml hot lamb or chicken stock
2 medium carrots, diced
1 large potato, diced
sprig rosemary
sprig thyme
handful roughly chopped flat leaf parsley
For the dumplings
100g self-raising flour
50g butter, cut in pieces
1tsp rosemary leaves, finely chopped
1tsp thyme leaves, finely chopped
2tsp flat leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped

How to prepare
Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4, 180℃, fan 160℃. Put the flour in a large bowl and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Toss the lamb in the seasoned flour so it’s well coated. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil with the butter in a large flameproof casserole dish or deep ovenproof sauté pan.
Tip in the lamb and fry over a high heat for 5 minutes, turning over occasionally, until no longer pink and starting to brown. Transfer to a plate with a slotted spoon.
Add the onion to the dish or pan with another tablespoon of oil if needed, and fry over a medium-high heat for 5 minutes, or until just starting to brown, stirring occasionally. Stir in the garlic and cook 1 minute, then the tomato purée and keep stirring for about 30 seconds. Pour in a little of the stock and scrape the bottom of the pan to deglaze it. Slowly add the rest of the stock, stirring all the time.
Return the lamb to the pan along with the carrots, potato and herb sprigs. Cover and bake in the oven for 1 hour 45 mins. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
Just before the lamb has cooked, make the dumplings. Put the flour in a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add the butter and rub together with your fingers to make rough crumbs. Stir in the rosemary, thyme and parsley, then pour in 2 tablespoons of cold water and mix using a round bladed knife to a softish dough. Cut the dough into 8 even-sized pieces and gently shape into small balls. Drop these on the surface of the casserole and cook in the oven, uncovered, for 20 more minutes until the dumplings are risen and the lamb is meltingly tender. (For a thinner sauce, carefully stir in a little more stock or boiling water.) Serve scattered with parsley.

Freezing and defrosting guidelines
Once the dish has cooled completely, skim off any fat that has come to the top and transfer the casserole to an airtight, freezer-safe container, seal and freeze for up to 3 months. To serve, defrost thoroughly in the fridge overnight before reheating. Loosely cover with foil and reheat until piping hot.