Mince and dumplings is the perfect winter dish to warm you up. Minced beef is cooked with vegetables and beef stock, and topped with soft, pillowy dumplings. This is real British comfort food.
If you’re familiar with the mince pies I shared before, we talked about the definition of ‘mince’ and the sweet versus savory concept. Well, this dish falls into the savory category.
This mince and dumplings recipe, also called mince cobbler, was one of my favorite meals growing up and my mum had her recipe down – it was perfect every time.
Well, I say “recipe,” but there really wasn’t one. Either way, this is the best British comfort food.
Unfortunately, my mom can’t share her recipe with me today and she never wrote anything down. She made this (and all her other dishes) in the style of “a little of this a little of that” and it always tasted so good.
Given her method, this is the perfect dish too, for this reason, because it’s very hard to mess 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. Like traditional shepherd’s pie, mince and dumplings is a popular dish that never gets old.
Mince and Dumplings Ingredients
Just like in many other British recipes, suet is traditionally used in the dumplings. Like with my Spotted Dick recipe, since suet is not readily available in the States, I substituted shortening.
Speaking of the Spotted Dick recipe, it would be the perfect dessert to follow this dish. It is also warm, comforting classic British fare.
To make this version of mince and dumplings you will need:
- Beef mince – The beef part of this dish is a basic mince made of browned ground beef – the base of this rich and delicious British comfort food.
- Vegetable oil – A little bit of vegetable oil is warmed and used to brown the ground beef in a big skillet.
- Yellow onion – Finely diced yellow onion adds so much flavor to this dish.
- Celery – The celery should also be finely diced so it’s not too chunky in the finished recipe.
- Carrots – Dice carrots round out the classic mirepoix of onion, celery and carrots.
- Garlic – Fresh garlic, grated or finely minced is necessary for mince and dumplings.
- Salt – A touch of salt, to taste, adds the perfect seasoning to this traditional fare.
- Black pepper – Black pepper is also needed for the ideal seasoning.
- Tomato paste – Rich tomato paste adds a savory quality to the sauce.
- Red wine – Used to add depth to the flavor, don’t skip the red wine in this mince and dumplings.
- Chopped tomatoes – You can used fresh chopped tomatoes or diced canned tomatoes.
- Beef stock – Beef stock helps create a deeply flavorful stew mixture.
- Worcestershire sauce – Mince and dumplings is not complete with the addition of Worcestershire sauce.
- Bay leaf – Bay leaf simmers in the mince stew adding so much yummy flavor.
- Flour – All purpose flour is used for making the dumpling dough.
- Vegetable shortening – As mentioned above, the shortening is used in place of the classic beef suet traditionally used to make suet dumplings. If you can find it, vegetable suet is also a great alternative to shortening.
- Parsley – Fresh parsley is chopped and adds a bit of freshness as a common addition to herby dumplings made from soft dough with a slightly crunchy crust once baked.
What is Suet?
Beef suet is a common ingredient in British fare such as steamed puddings, sweet mincemeat, dumplings and pastry. It is made of a saturated beef fat with a low melting point that adds delicious flavor to pastries and is also great for frying.
A total northern classic, the suet dumplings traditionally used in mince and dumplings are an easy recipe resulting in ever so slightly crispy dumplings that are soft on the inside. Afer simmering in the mince stew, they practically melt in your mouth.
How to Make Mince and Dumplings
- Warm vegetable oil over medium heat in a large sauce pan with a lid. Add ground beef and brown.
- Add onions and continue to cook until they are softened, about five minutes.
- Add salt, pepper and tomato paste and stir.
- Stir in wine, scraping any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Simmer for 1 minute.
- Add in the chopped tomatoes, beef stock, Worcestershire sauce and bay leaf, then simmer for 15 minutes while you make the dumplings.
- Preheat oven to 375° before assembling the dumplings.
- Add flour, salt and shortening to a bowl. Use a fork or pastry cutter to cut the shortening into the flour, until it’s crumb-like in texture.
- Slowly pour in water until you get a soft, spongy dough.
- Remove bay leaf from the meat and sauce, then flour hands and roll dough into eight round dumplings.
- Place dumplings even over the top of the minced meat.
- Cover the pan and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for an additional 30 minutes until dumplings are browned and cooked through.
- Sprinkle everything fresh parsley before serving.
The History of British Dumplings
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.
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More Classic British Recipes to Try
- Brown Windsor soup
- Spotted dick
- British fish pie
- Traditional shepherd’s pie
- Victoria sponge cake
- British steak and ale pie
- British baked beans
- Chocolate sponge cake
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