Beef & Red Pea Stew with Thyme Spinner Dumplings

From Ainsley’s Food We Love, ITV

This is a twist on a traditional Jamaican red pea soup and uses the delicious Caribbean flavours to make a hearty beef stew. A comforting dish that reminds me of my childhood.


Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based pan with a lid. Add the onion and cook for 4-6 minutes until softened but not coloured. Add as much of the chilli as you like with the garlic, allspice and thyme leaves and continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Add the pancetta and cook for 2-3 minutes until lightly golden and add the beef and saute until browned all over. Stir in the tomato puree and cook for another minute, stirring. Pour in the stock, passata and coconut cream, stirring until well combined.

Add the bay leaves and kidney beans and season. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the pumpkin, cover and continue cooking for 15 minutes until the sauce has reduced a little and the beef is tender.

Meanwhile make the dumplings. Place the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, a good pinch of thyme leaves and ½ tsp of salt into a bowl. Stir to combine and add enough cold water to make a soft dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and using floured hands, roll into 12-16 finger shaped pieces. Lower them into the stew and simmer gently for another 15 minutes until the dumplings are cooked through.

Serve at once, topped with spring onions and with a dash of hot pepper sauce if you like it spicy!



  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1-2 scotch bonnet chillis, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 2 tsp thyme leaves, plus extra for the dumplings
  • 50g pancetta or smoked bacon lardons
  • 800g beef steak, cut into 2cm cubes
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 300ml beef stock
  • 500ml passata
  • 250ml coconut cream
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 x 400g cans of kidney beans (or soaked and precooked fresh kidney beans)
  • 250g pumpkin, peeled and chopped into 2cm chunks
  • 100g cornmeal
  • 100g plain flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 spring onions, trimmed, finely sliced
  • West Indian hot sauce, to serve