What a grey day yesterday was, with an added ice bucket challenge I was definitely in need of a winter warmer dinner, and on the cheap too! If you ask my University friends what is the most common dinner I cook in autumn/winter they will all tell you my famous COBBLER! I discovered the delight in my first week in my first year at University trying to navigate this cooking malarkey so it is nice and simple. Through some basic student cookbooks and with a few tweaks it has become my absolute favourite. Not just me, every time I visited my parents in the holidays it was requested, and of course I happily obliged.
This is a great meal to have fun with and is really adaptable! Not a fan of carrots? That’s fine (though you’re a little weird) you can substitute another vegetable like butternut squash, parsnips or celery! Prefer lamb over beef, that’s great, use whatever meat you like as long as you can get it in mince form. Vegetarian? Use Quorn mince. Fridge looking a little a bear? Those veggies seen better days? MAKE A COBBLER!
There are two parts to making the perfect cobbler. Firstly making the meat sauce – dead simple just like a bolognaise in my mind. Everyone is different so make the mince they way you like it with all the extra bits or keep it simple with tomatoes. Secondly the dumplings with a top that goes deliciously crunchy and a bottom which soaks up that great tomato flavour. I broke my scales when developing this recipe so I measured in MUGS (not CUPS). Just pick an average mug out the cupboard and as long as you use the same one your proportions should be good. If have too much you can freeze the dough and it is quick enough to whip up another batch if you make too little.
Ingredients – serves 5
For the mince & sauce For the dumpling top
500g pack of beef mince 2 mugs of self raising flour
1 Onion chopped 1 mug of suet (or lard)
2 x tin of chopped tomatoes ¾ mug of water or what is needed
3 x Carrots sliced however you like just not too big. Basil or coriander
Salt & Pepper Extras: Cayenne Pepper, Mushrooms, 2 cloves of garlic (crushed)
One. Preheat oven to 180C / gas mark 6, heat a tablespoon of oil in a large pan
Two. Fry the onion until slightly soft, add mushrooms (optional) then mince and cook until no longer pink.
Three. Add carrots and garlic (and any other veggies of your choice) and fry for a further few minutes.
Four. Add the tinned tomatoes, herbs/spices/salt and a good squeeze or two of tomato puree. Stir well and simmer for 10 minutes then transfer to 1 or 2 casserole dishes (I use 2 – more space for dumplings).
Five. Dumpling time! Put the flour, suet and herbs (all the dumpling ingredients) in a bowl and stir well. Slowly add in water stirring until the mixture makes a soft ball. I like getting a little messy so when I have added about half the water I start using my hands instead of the spoon.
Six. Sprinkle some flour out and turn out the mixture, if not already form into a ball. Split in half and then make 6 small balls from each half (so 12 in total). You don’t need to be too particular but try and keep them all the same size. Don’t worry if you only get 10 or equally an extra 1 or 2.
Seven. Place the dumpling balls on top of the meat mixture leaving some space between them for them to grow. Use your fingers or a brush to cover with some milk to help them go extra brown and crunchy.
Eight. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until the crust is browned. Serve with boiled green beans and a cheeky garlic bread.