Mince and dumplings is the perfect winter dish to warm you up, from the inside out. Minced beef is cooked with vegetables and beef stock, and topped with soft, pillowy dumplings for a complete meal in one pot. This is real British comfort food.
If you recall the mince pies I made a few weeks ago, we talked about the definition of ‘mince’ and the sweet versus savory concept. Well, this dish falls into the savory category.
This was one of my favorite meals growing up and my mum had her recipe down, and was perfect every time. I say recipe, but there wasn’t one.
And of course, she can’t share it with me today because she never wrote anything down. She just made this (and all her other dishes) in the style of “a little of this a little of that” and “yes, that tastes good”!
Given her method, this is the perfect dish too, for this reason, because it’s very hard to mess-up it up. Everything cooks together in the pan which leads to developing a rich, deep flavor. The dumplings add a lovely ‘crust’ that cuts through the sauciness of the dish.
Just like in many other British recipes, suet is traditionally used in the dumplings. I talked about suet in the mince pies post as well the Spotted Dick recipe, which would be the perfect dessert to follow this dish, because it is also comforting and warming.
Like with the Spotted Dick recipe, since suet is not readily available in the U.S., I substituted shortening.
In doing some research, I found a little history of dumplings that I didn’t know existed. Dumplings were influenced by the Italians, and have been around since AD50, the time of the Roman invasion.
The Romans used to make their dumplings with lentils (which were not very popular in Britain), so the British started making them with water and flour.
They then developed them further by adding milk and some extra ingredients, and this is how the British dumpling was born.