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    An English Boiled Dinner

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    An English Boiled Dinner

    "This is a variation on the boiled dinner that my mother made at home at around the time I was becoming interested in food and cooking. It is quite a bother to do, but its appearance on the table is always a wonderful sight."

    Serves: 6


    • Dumplings
    • 120g plain flour
    • 60g suet
    • Large pinch of salt
    • Half teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 bunch chopped watercress,chopped
    • Water to mix
    • 1.75kg piece of salt beef (silverside is best) - soaked overnight in water
    • 1 brined ox tongue - uncooked, soaked overnight in water, or
    • 1.25kg piece green ham shoulder, soaked overnight in water
    • 5 cloves
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 2 onions, halved
    • 2 large carrots, chopped
    • Half a head of celery, chopped
    • Ravigote sauce
    • 4 hard-boiled egg yolks, pushed through a sieve or finely chopped
    • 2 tablespoon capers, chopped
    • 1 tablespoon tarragon, chopped
    • 1 teacup chives, chopped
    • 1 teacup parsley, chopped
    • 150ml oil
    • Squeeze of lemon juice or vinegar


    1. Use a large enough saucepan to accommodate both pieces of meat. Fill it with water, add the cloves, bay leaves, onions with the skins left on, chopped carrots and celery.
    2. Remove the meat from its soaking and place in the pan, bring to boil and simmer for 2 1/2 - 3 hours.
    3. Reserve the cooking liquor for the dumplings, but remove about 200ml and boil rapidly to reduce for a gravy.
    4. Wrap the meat in 2 layers of foil to keep it warm. Just before serving, peel the outer skin from the tongue, if using.
    5. To make the dumplings, place the flour, suet, salt, baking powder and watercress in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Add a tablespoon of cold water and mix to bind the ingredients (you may need to add more water). When you have a slightly sticky dough, remove a walnut-sized quantity and roll it into a ball in your hands. To prevent the dough from sticking, flour your hands. Place the dumplings onto a floured board.
    6. Five minutes before you eat, bring cooking liquor to the boil. Add the dumplings one by one - they will sink to the bottom and then rise to the surface when they start to cook. They are done when they have nearly doubled in size. Remove them from the pan using a slotted spoon and shake off any excess water. Arrange on a large, warmed serving dish.
    7. To make the ravigote sauce, mix all the ingredients and season to taste.
    8. Slice the meat and lay it on the same serving dish. Serve with ravigote sauce - a piquant blend of herbs and capers - or mustard and horseradish.

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