I named this A Winter's Walk Beef Stew, as it is JUST the kind of hearty and welcoming meal to come back to after a cold and energetic winter's walk! The dumplings are baked for the last 20 minutes on top of the stew and are deliciously crisp and golden, but still fluffy and light underneath. This can be made with minced beef/ground beef as well as braising/stewing steak or chuck steak. I have allowed 2 dumplings per person here - please adapt the quantities to suit, but we always find 2 dumplings each very satisfying! There is no need to serve much else with this filling comforting stew, maybe some steamed cabbage, baby potatoes or greens would be nice.....or a few extra carrots. This serves 4 people with very generous helpings. You may need a walk AFTERWARDS!! A nice glass of robust red wine or a pint of ale would be great accompaniments! This can be made in a crockpot - up to the dumpling stage and then the stew can be put into an ovenproof dish and baked with the dumplings. Likewise, if you are going for a pre-dinner walk - make the stew right up to the dumpling stage, and then finish off when you get home.
BEEF AND CARROT STEW
- 1 1⁄2 lbs lean stewing beef or 1 1⁄2 lbs braising beef, trimmed of fat and cubed or 1 1⁄2 lbs lean ground beef
- 2 tablespoons plain flour
- 1 ounce butter
- black pepper
- 2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
- 2 -4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely diced
- 4 large carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 small turnips (optional) or 2 small swede, peeled and finey diced (optional)
- 8 ounces chopped plum tomatoes
- 1⁄2 pint beef stock (made up with half water and beer or beef stock, made up with half water and wine)
- 8 ounces self raising flour
- 1 teaspoon dried herbs (such as parsley, sage, thyme, majoram and rosemary) or 1 tablespoon freshly chopped mixed herbs (such as parsley, sage, thyme, majoram and rosemary)
- 4 ounces shredded vegetable suet or 4 ounces grated frozen butter
- water, to mix
- BEEF AND CARROT STEW:.
- Toss the meat in the flour that has been seasoned with salt and pepper.
- Fry the meat in the butter (over a medium to high heat) in a large roomy frying pan or skillet until browned, turning constantly.
- Remove the sealed browned meat and set aside.
- Add the onions, garlic and carrots (and optional vegetables) to the same pan and fry for 5 to 7 minutes or until golden and coloured.
- Put the meat in to a suitable sized oven proof casserole dish or dutch oven, such as a Le Creuset. Add the fried vegetables, tinned chopped tomatoes and the beef stock - mix well, cover with a lid and place into a pre-heated oven 170C/325F/Gas Mark 3 for 2 hours.
- Twenty minutes before the end of the 2 hours cooking time, take the stew out of the oven, remove the lid and add the dumplings, drop them on top of the stew. Do NOT replace the lid, continue to bake uncovered for a further 20 to 25 minutes or until dumplings have risen and are crusty, crispy and golden brown.
- Serve immediately with steamed cabbage, greens and baby potatoes.
- Mix the flour with the salt, pepper and herbs in a mixing bowl.
- Stir in the suet or grated frozen butter and then add water VERY carefully and slowly - mixing in between, until the dumpling dough is soft, but not sticky.
- Shape the dough into 8 round dumplings, and drop them on top of the beef stew 20 minutes before the end of the cooking time.