Lamb neck, dumplings, onion

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Preparation info

  • Serves 8

    main course portions
    • Difficulty


Appears in

Mile 8: A book about cooking

Mile 8

By David Higgs

Published 2018

  • About
The Tulbagh Hotel

Pa Joe was a chef at the Tulbagh, where I started as a young cook. He was also a taxi boss and loan shark. But he looked after me and he made the staff food on the days he felt like it. One of his recipes was dumplings and chicken necks fried with onions was another. Gremolata is an unbelievable mix of simple ingredients that add so much to a basic dish. All about the aroma… As the herbs, lemon and garlic touch that hot food, the smells will keep you eating for sure.


Lamb casserole

  • 1.2 kg lamb neck – trimmed and cut into 2 cm sections
  • 100 ml olive oil
  • 300 g onion – sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic – crushed
  • 7 g crushed coriander seeds
  • 5 g white pepper
  • salt
  • 600 ml1.2 litres (depending on the size of the pot) beef stock

Baby onions

  • coarse salt
  • 16 whole baby onions
  • 8 dumplings2 per serving
  • 80 ml gremolata10 ml per serving
  • lemon zest – to finish


Brown the meat in the olive oil in a heavy-based pot. Once browned, remove the meat and add the onions. Fry until golden and add the garlic and coriander seeds. Cook until the garlic releases its aroma. Return the meat to the pot, and season with white pepper and salt. Just cover the meat with stock and/or water and bring to a simmer. Cover with a cartouche (paper or silicone lid) and cook as slowly as possible, 3–4 hours, until the meat is tender.

Once cooked, it is always best to refrigerate a stew overnight to allow the flavours to mature. The next day, when ready to serve, add the stew to a pot and bring to a simmer. Make sure that there is enough liquid in the pot to cover the solids sufficiently. Then add the raw dumplings – make sure that the liquid covers the dumplings halfway. Cover with a lid and let them steam for 20 minutes or until cooked through.

Line a tray with coarse salt and place the baby onions on top. Roast in a 180°C oven for about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and peel the outer layer. Slice each onion in half lengthways, and place flat side up and grill to colour.

To assemble, ladle 130 g of the casserole onto each hot plate or bowl. Top with 2 dumplings and 4 baby onion halves and drizzle with 10 ml gremolata, and finish with lemon zest.