The Owl and the Pussycat went to Sea….

…..in a beautiful pea green boat.
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five pound note.

Well, they’d have had a rare old time if they happened upon a floating gin palace with a cash bar but they probably wouldn’t have eaten very well once the honey was gone. Thankfully the clever pussycat also had with him a Sea Pie. Despite the name Sea Pie has very little to do with fish. It’s a great, warming and filling dish designed to keep fishermen going when they’re out at sea. Mr Stovies’ granny was a fine North Eastern fishwife and our version is an ode to her epic meaty dish.

This recipe will serve 6-8 people and is great for a relaxed late Sunday lunch. We would say on a winter’s day but really with a traditional Scottish summer any day will do!

For the meat stew:
750g Oxtail
500g Boiling beef (just ask the butcher, it’s a funny cut)
2 Onions, cut into large slices
3 Large carrots, in 1 inch chunks
1/4 Medium turnip, in 1 inch chunks
1tbsp Flour, heaped
750ml Water
1 or 2 Bay leaves
A good pinch of white pepper

Put all of the ingredients except the flour into a large, oven proof, lidded pan. Bring up to simmering point on the stove then turn the heat down low, cover with the lid and cook for a long time. A 4 hours plus long time, all day if you can. Stir occasionally. When the meat is falling away from the bones, fish the chunks out, pull the meat away from the bone with a fork and return to the pan. Discard the bones and the bay leaves. Mix a little cooking juice with the flour to make a lazy roux, thin it down with some more cooking liquor and stir through to thicken the stew.

For the dumplings:
200g Self raising flour
75g Suet
1tsp Dried thyme
Salt & pepper
Water to mix

Mix the dry ingredients together, add enough water to make a sticky dough then form into dumplings either by getting your hands dirty and rolling golf ball sized balls between your palms or get a little cheffy and use two spoons to make quenelles. Make sure you have one dumpling per person, although a couple of extras are a good idea too!

Asses the stew, the dumplings will suck up lots of water so you may need to add some more to compensate. Ideally there will be about 1/2 a cm of stew juice above the body of the meat. Place the dumplings evenly on top of the stew, cover with the lid and cook on a medium to low heat for half an hour.

Serve with crusty bread, a good red wine* and good chat.

*or a craft brewed ale, Harviestoun make some beautiful beers…..

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