January Recipe: Chicken Casserole with English Ale & Stilton Walnut Dumplings

I have found a very seasonal recipe with winter vegetables and using up some of the leftover stilton that you may still have from Christmas, which is I am informed is the best time of year to buy Stilton.  I adore dumplings but don’t, I must confess, make them very often.  However, they seem ideal at this dismal, dark time of year – I am not a winter person as you will gather, despite having a January birthday!

I am sure you will enjoy the recipe.  Any English Ale will do of course, preferably a local one!


  • 25g. / 1 ozs. flour
  • 4 chicken breasts or 8 chicken thighs
  • ½ tsp. dried sage
  • 4 rashers of streaky bacon, chopped
  • 2 leeks, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 stick of celery, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed
  • I can ale (175mls.)
  • ½ tsp. malt vinegar and ½ tsp. sugar
  • ½ tbsp. wholegrain mustard
  • 300mls. chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 125g. / 6ozs. small turnips, peeled & chopped into chunks
  • 1 parsnip, chopped into chunks
  • oil

For the dumplings:

  • 50g. / 2ozs. stilton, chopped
  • 25g. / 1oz. walnuts, chopped
  • 100g. / 4ozs. self-raising flour
  • 50g. / 2ozs. suet
  • 2 egg yolks
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • a grating of nutmeg and a pinch of pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C / gas mark 4. Season the flour generously with salt and pepper. Dust the chicken portions with the seasoned flour and sage.
  2. Heat some oil in a large casserole, add the chicken and brown on all sides. Remove the chicken and put to one side. Add the chopped bacon and fry for 2 minutes. Add the leeks, carrots, celery, onion and garlic and fry gently, stirring often for 4 – 5 minutes.
  3. Add the chopped thyme, sugar, ale, malt vinegar and mustard and bring to the boil. Pour the chicken stock into the dish, then add the browned chicken, bay leaf, turnips and parsnips.
  4. Cover and bake in the preheated oven for ten minutes, then reduce the heat to 140C / gas mark 1 and bake for a further 1 hour 30 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, make the dumplings. Place the stilton, walnuts, flour, suet, and egg yolks in a bowl. Add in the salt, nutmeg and pepper, mixing well.
  6. Combine the stilton mixture into a dough and shape into small, even-sized balls. Half an hour before the casserole has completed baking, scatter the dumplings over the casserole and bake, uncovered fore the last 30 minutes.
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