Norfolk Boiled Beef and Dumplings

This dish dates back to the Middle Ages, when it would have been known as a “Running Pottage” as the plentiful broth was clear and unthickened. Dumplings were always cooked in the broth and served with the meat and vegetables. Potatoes were boiled and served separately to prevent them making the broth cloudy.


  • 4 lb (2 kg) fresh or slightly salted silverside of beef (the butcher will generally salt it for you if asked a few days before you need it. If fresh beef is used the recipe requires 2 teaspoons of salt)
  • lb (¾ kg) carrots, scraped and sliced
  • lb (¾ kg) turnips, peeled and cubed, if liked
  • 6 celery sticks, cut in 1 inch (2.5 cm) lengths
  • 12 black peppercorns
  • Parsley, sage and thyme tied in a bunch

The Dumplings

  • 2 cups (240 g) self-raising flour
  • ¾ cup (90 g) shredded suet
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • cup (1.5 dl) milk and water, mixed


Put the vegetables in a very large saucepan or fish kettle and cover with water. Add the peppercorns, salt (if fresh beef is used) and the bunch of herbs. Bring to the boil and then put in the beef—the water should cover the meat. Cover the pan and allow to simmer gently for 1½ hours.

Meanwhile, make the dumplings. Mix the flour, suet and salt in a bowl and stir in the liquid gradually. Shake some flour on to a flat surface and knead the dough for 30 seconds. Divide the dough and roll into small balls about 1 inch (2.5 cm) across.

After the beef has simmered for 1½ hours, drop in the dumplings and simmer for a further 20 to 30 minutes.