Gammon and cider stew with apple cardamom dumplings

This is a medium-weight stew. A spring or autumn affair like an earth-tone cardigan for your mouth. The pork and apples are brighter than, say, beef and ale, and the spices keep it light while the dumplings add some satisfying heft.

I was talking about it to friends the other night, and I was sure I’d posted it already. Apparently not. I only had the recipe as a scrappy handwritten scrawl in an old notebook. So if I’m writing it up, you might as well all have it too.

It’s reasonably easy, and uses meat you don’t see super often outside roasts. While little seems likely to cure our national gammon we can at least reclaim this retro carvery favourite while there’s still food on the shelves, eh?

Ingredients:

For the stew:

  • Gammon (unsmoked), 800g
  • Onions, 2 medium
  • Cider, 500ml of something not too sweet (Henney’s dry is readily available and works)
  • Flour, 1 tbsp or so
  • Cardamom, a pinch of the ground stuff from the dumpling ingredients below
  • Optional: a couple of carrots or other root veg

I add some carrots or parsnip if I’m doing this in the winter or don’t want to serve it with a lot of veg sides. But honestly it’s best straight up

For the dumplings:

  • Flour, 200g
  • Suet, 100g
  • Apples, 2 medium
  • Cardamom, 6
  • Baking powder, 2tsp
  • A bit of salt

Serves 4 generously, 6 with carbs on the side.

Instructions:

As we all know if we’ve spent any time on Twitter, gammon can be pretty salty. So you’ll probably want to soak it for a few hours, maybe even overnight.

Remove any rind, and cut it into large chunks.

Cut the onion into quarters, and any other veg you’re using into large dice.

Shell and grind the cardamom. Peel and grate the apple, and press out some of the excess liquid, reserving it.

In a large pan, or the casserole dish you’ll be using, get some oil or fat reasonably hot and fry off the gammon chunks, turning occasionally to get a bit of colour on them, for about 5 mins.

Remove, and put to one side.

Add the onions and any optional veg. Lower the heat a little, and cook for 10 mins or so, again stirring a bit until softened.

Toss in a pinch or two of the ground cardamom, stir round, and re-add the gammon.

Add the tablespoon (ish, maybe a touch more) of flour, stir it all together to get it mixed and cook the flour out for a minute or two.

Add the cider, and stir, ensuring you get any tasty bits off the bottom of the pan. People whose mental model of food is from a 1970s French bistro call this ‘deglazing’, apparently. Anyway, it should thicken and come together.

Put a lid on it and put it in the oven at 160c or so for an hour while you have a sit down for a bit and then make the dumplings.

For that you just mix everything together. Get a large mixing bowl and sift in the flour if you’re feeling fancy. It can stop clumping but I never bother. Add the suet, baking powder, ground cardamom, and a pinch of salt, mix a bit and then work in the grated apple with just enough of the reserved apple juice (or water if you run out) to bring it together into a fairly stiff dough.

Work it together a little but don’t worry about kneading. Roll it out into 6-8 little dumplings, and add them to the stew once it’s had about an hour in the oven.

Put the lid back on and put the stew back in for another half hour.

If it’s very wet and you prefer something thicker, uncover it for the final ten minutes or so, or give it a quick simmer, lid off, on the hob to reduce.

I’d put this with plenty of steamed greens, but then when wouldn’t I? Roasted carrots would go well too, although that may be a bit much sweetness on one plate.

Carbs on the side? Always. Frankly, I’m upset you asked. I’d put bread with this, but you’ll totes get away with mash.

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