With the autumn virtually on our doorsteps the weather has turned rainy, windy and quite chilly. Not cold like winter . . . mind . . . but there is a definite chill in the air. On afternoons when we go for our walk, we return to the house with a real chill in the bones and longing for something comforting to warm our bellys . . .
Something that is nourishing and rib sticking . . . rich and homey . . .
This delicious beef stew with it's herb filled suet dumplings fits the bill on all counts!!
The meat . . . fork tender and the gravy thick and rich and filled with deliciously simmered root vegetables . . .
The dumplings . . . rich and meltingly tender on the insides . . . herbily soaking up that lucious gravy. Oh my . . . but this is some good . . .
Mashed spuds on the side are a given! This is comfort food at it's very best!
*Beef Stew With Herbed Dumplings*
A satifisfying dish on a cool and wet autumn evening. Long slow cooking ensures that the meat is melt in the mouth tender. Topped with old fashioned herby suet dumplings, this is guaranteed to satisfy the heartiest of appetites. Delicious!
For the stew:
3 TBS olive oil
2 onions, peeled and chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
2 large carrots, peeled, sliced in half and then cut into half moon chunks
2 parsnips, peeled, quartered and sliced into 2 inch long bits
1/4 of a small swede, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 1/2 pounds good quality braising steak
2 TBS plain flour
10 fluid ounces of beef stock
a bouquet garni (see note below)
5 fluid ounces of good red wine
salt and black pepper
1 TBS chopped fresh flat leaf parsley to garnish at the end
For the dumplings:
4 ounces of self raising flour, plus extra for shaping (1 cup)
2 ounces shredded suet (about 1/4 cup heaped)
1 tsp dry mustard
1 TBS chopped fresh parsley
1 TBS chopped fresh sage
4 TBS cold water
salt and black pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 150*C/300*F/ gas mark 2. Heat 1 TBS of the oil in a large frying pan and fry the onion and garlic until softened. Add the vegetables and sweat for about 10 minutes. Scoop everything into a large casserole dish.
Trim the meat and cut it into thick chunks. Using the remaining oil, fry the meat in the same pan over high heat, stirring well until it is rown all over. Sprinkle with the flour and stir well to prevent lumps. Season well with salt and pepper. Over medium heat pour in the stock and the wine, stirring constantly to make a smooth sauce. Continue to heat to boiling. Carefully turn the contents into the casserole with the vegetables. Give it a good stir and then add the bouquet garni. Cover tightly and cook gently in the oven for 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
Make the dumpling by placing the flour, suet, mustard, herbs and seasonings into a bowl. Add enough of the water to make a firm but soft dough. Break off the dough into 12 equal pieces and shape with lightly floured hands into round balls. Drop these on top of the hot stew, pushing them down a bit into the hot liquid. Cover and return the dish to the oven. Cook for a further 15 minutes, until the dumplings have doubled in size and the stew is nicely tender.
Serve piping hot, sprinkled with the fresh parsley and with some mashed spuds on the side.
Note -The bouquet garni is a bundle of herbs usually tied together with string and mainly used to prepare soup, stock and stews. The bouquet is boiled with the other ingredients, but is removed prior to consumption.
There is no generic recipe for bouquet garni, but most recipes include parsley, thyme and bay leaf. Depending on the recipe, the bouquet garni may include basil, chernet, chervil, rosemary, tarragon, peppercorns and Savoury. Sometimes vegetables such as carrots, celery (with leaf attached) leeks, onion, celeriac and parsley root and are also included in the bouquet.Sometimes, the bouquet is not bound with string, and its ingredients are filled into a small sachet, a net, or even a tea ball instead. Traditionally, the aromatics are bound within leek leaves, though a coffee filter and butcher twine can be used instead of leek.