Mmm, yum. This made a fabulous Sunday lunch on a clear, crisp and chilly day. It uses a reasonably cheap cut of lamb, so it requires slow cooking, but the flavour and texture is wonderful.
I bought two lamb shanks, which rightfully feeds about 3 people. Lamb is great at this time of year, much better than in the spring, having had a lovely summer roaming free to express natural lammy behaviour.
Chop up a big onion, a couple of sticks of celery and a few cubed carrots along with several cloves of garlic. Add them to hot oil in a large pan, give them a quick stir, and then drop in your lamb shanks. Let them brown all over before adding a big glug of red wine and 500ml (2 pints) lamb stock, or whatever stock you have to hand.
Bring up to a simmer and add a cup (or tin) or cannellini beans, a few sprigs of thyme and rosemary and a couple of bay leaves. Leave to cook, lid on, over a low heat for 1 hour.
After an hour, give it a good stir and add cubed parsnips or potatoes, I had some brocolli and cauliflower stems so I cubed and added them in as well. A big dollop of redcurrant jelly really helps the gravy along too.
After another half an hour, add in some whole mushrooms and green veg like broccoli, savoy cabbage, peas, green beans or whatever you happen to have. Give it a good grinding of black pepper and salt to taste.
To make the dumplings, the ratio is twice as much self-raising flour to suet. For two people, I used 80g flour to 40g vegetable suet, with a pinch of salt, brought together with a few spoonfuls of cold water. Roll them into balls about the size of a golfball and plonk them on top of the casserole. Put the lid back on and leave to cook for 20 minutes until they've puffed up.