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Perhaps an unconventional Christmas meal, but with only two of us to feed a turkey or goose would be too much, and with some exquisite stewing venison in the freezer from Dunham Massey it seemed only natural to have venison stew.

We bought our venison from Little Heath Farm a few weeks ago when they received a delivery from the National Trust property just down the road.  It is nice to know that the main ingredient in our Christmas meal came from within 5 miles and most likely had a lovely life roaming the parkland at Dunham Massey.

With a large part of my University days spent studying Native Americans both in the UK and Canada, it seemed only apt to follow the recipe for venison stew from Jamie’s America book.  Based on a Navajo stew, this recipe is incredibly delicious and is the second time we’ve made it.

My only addition was to make some parsley and suet dumpling, which I popped into the stew towards the end of cooking.  There is something very moreish about dumplings – I think I could eat a plateful drenched in a couple of spoonfuls of stew liqueur.

Mash potato was made with our allotment grown potatoes, which must be said have been a bit disastrous.  Whether it’s the variety, how we’ve grown them, or how we cook them, but the potatoes just disintegrate into soupy glue if not watched carefully. 

I have learnt that the trick with them is to watch them carefully in the water, looking for the moment when the outside starts to break down, but leaving them long enough to make sure they are almost cooked through. 

This time I put it through my wonderful French mouli that I picked up at the carboot – it was fantastic!  With the help of a little cream (maybe a lot…) and butter, and some seasoning, the mash turned out all right.

What did you eat for Christmas dinner?


Chicken Stew

For lunch today we made Chicken Stew with Dumplings.  I say ‘American style’ because I found the recipe via Tasty Kitchen, which is an American-based recipe website, and because the dumplings aren’t like any I’ve made before.

The original recipe was more of a thick soup than a stew, but I have amended it slightly to make it into more of a stew than a soup.  For the original recipe see here.  For my version see below.

Chicken Stew

It must be said that on eating this dish it should be issued with a health warning.  This is incredibly rich, especially the dumplings.  It is tasty, but you can feel your heart slowing, your eyelids lowering, and a deep haze of sleep creeping over you. 

My advice would be to substitute most of the cream in the dumplings for water – I can’t imagine it would ruin them, but it would make the whole dish altogether more enjoyable.  For our tastes, this recipe is just a bit too much.

Maybe this recipe should be renamed Death by Dumplings…

Chicken Stew

Chicken Stew with Dumplings ‘American style’

Serves 3-4

The chicken stew
1 whole chicken, cut into pieces with skin left on (breasts, wings, leg and thighs)
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 sticks of celery, chopped
1 litre of chicken stock
1-2 bay leaves
Couple of sprigs of thyme
1/4 tsp turmeric
Plain flour
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

The dumplings
200g plain flour
60g cornmeal or polenta
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
284ml double cream
Dash of water

First things first.  Season some plain flour with salt and pepper and dunk in each piece of chicken to coat.  In a large pan, fry the chicken pieces in hot oil until golden brown on both sides – start with skin side down first.  Remove to a plate.

Golden chicken

Add the chopped onion to the oil (ours got a little singed so we removed the burnt flour first and replaced some of the oil).  Cook for a minute or two until softened. 

Chopped onion

Add the chopped celery and carrot, the bay leaves, thyme, turmeric, and salt and pepper. 

Chopped Celery and Carrot

Cook for another couple of minutes.

Saute vegetables

Pour in the chicken stock and bring to the boil.  In a small dish mix a couple of teaspoons of cornflour with a little water and mix to get rid of any lumps.  Add this mixture into the pot and stir in. 

Chicken Stew

Next add the chicken pieces and turn the heat down to a simmer.  Cover with a lid and cook for about 15-20 minutes. 

At this point you can remove the chicken to a plate and turn up the heat to a boil to start to thicken your sauce.  Do this until it’s at the consistency you want.

Chicken Stew

In a separate bowl, mix together the ingredients for the dumplings – plain flour, polenta, baking powder and salt. 

Add the double cream and mix well.  You just want to mix the ingredients to a sticky dough – you can always add a splash of water if you need to loosen it a little.


Spoon the dumpling mixture into the stew and cover with a lid.  About 12 minutes should cook them – they will fluff up – in our case rather too much (see below for what ours looked like!). 

Fluffy dumplings

Take your serving plates and arrange a couple of pieces of chicken on each.  Spoon out a dumpling or two and finally a generous helping of the stew liquid.  Sprinkle over some parsley and eat. 

Chicken Stew

I feel like I need to go and sleep off this meal for the rest of the afternoon…


Chicken Stew

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Eat the Earth

I love food, especially locally grown and seasonal food. This is my place to share my food finds and the food I like to eat.

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