This is a retro classic British winter-warming (or, in my present situation, New York spring!) dish. Every family has their own variation - some keep the dumplings plain or make them with milk. We make ours with water as I find them too rich with milk. I like to add fresh parsley and I go heavy on the freshly grated nutmeg. In the UK we would traditionally use a cut of beef called "silverside," but asking for this in an American supermarket is akin to walking into a 7/11 and asking for a fag. I have improvised by using corned beef brisket with great success. The beef gives up the most glorious stock. In the photo I put the dumplings in the same pot as the beef and vegetables. However I think it's best to ladle out some stock into a saucepan to simmer the dumplings separately. The pot is already fit to bursting with the beef and vegetables and this way you will ensure you're left with a clear golden-brown rich stock at the end. This cries out to be served with a gutsy condiment to cut through the richness - creamed horseradish, English mustard or, my particular favourite, Tewksbury mustard - a horseradish mustard with a mule-like kick. —jellygood
For the boiled beef
corned beef brisket (or silverside of beef if you are in the UK)
whole black peppercorns
whole carrots, peeled
large Spanish onion, peeled and cut into eighths
For the parsley dumplings
all purpose flour
grated suet (or 1 stick of butter that is frozen)
finely chopped fresh parsley
sea salt (Maldon preferably)
freshly ground pepper
freshly ground nutmeg to taste (I used about 1/4 of a nutmeg)
Add the bay, peppercorns, parsley stalks into a pot. Add the brisket and cover with water to cover. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for at least 3 hours.
Half an hour before the beef's time is up, make the dumpling mix. Put all the dry ingredients into a bowl. Add grated suet or a grated frozen stick of butter (through the large holes of the box grater). Add freshly chopped parsley. Slowly add the water and mix with your hands until the mixture comes together and a dough is formed. It should be stiff but not too sticky.
After the beef has simmered for 3 hours, ladle some stock out into a saucepan, to come up about 3 inches high. Divide the dumpling dough into six, form into balls and plop into the saucepan of beef stock. Very gently simmer for 30 minutes until they look like fluffy clouds. Remove with a slotted spoon, handling with care as they are extremely fragile!
After the dumplings have been simmering for 10 minutes, add the vegetables to your beef pot. 20 minutes later everything is ready to serve. Plate up a few slices of the beef with a carrot, a dumpling, some onion and a ladleful of the stock on each plate. Scatter over any leftover chopped parsley and served with mustard/creamed horseradish. Serves 6.