The weather has become very cold in the UK, with temperatures dropping to -3 Celsius some nights. Following on from my promise to try new recipes I decided to try out a new beef stew for our Sunday meal. This stew is the perfect comfort food that we crave for during this cold weather. I've never made my own dumplings and couldn't beleive how easy they were to make, they turned out great if I do say so myself. I served the stew with creamy mash and it was delicious.
Beef Stew and mustard and thyme dumplings
1.5kg braising or chuck steak
about 2 tbsp seasoned flour
2 tbsp olive oil
2 large onions, peeled and chopped
6 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
sea salt and black pepper
4 celery stalks, sliced
4 large leeks, cleaned and cut into short lengths
1 small swede, peeled and cut into cubes
1 small celeriac, peeled and cut into cubes
1 bottle of robust red wine
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
a bouquet garni of parsley, thyme, rosemary, bay and 2 strips of orange peel, tied together
For the dumplings:
110g self-raising flour
55g beef of vegetable suet
1 tbsp thyme leaves, chopped, or 2 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp grain mustard or 1 tsp Colman's English mustard powder, or 2tp freshly grated horseradish
Preheat the oven to 150oC/Gas 2. Cut the beef into large cubes. Tip the flour into a Ziplock bag, add the meat, lock and shake to coat. Take out the meat, shaking off excess flour. Heat about 1 tbsp olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan and brown the meat in batches all over, removing it to a plate when browned and adding extra oil as needed.
Add the onions and garlic to the pan and sprinkle with a little salt. After a few minutes, as they begin to soften, add the celery, carrots, leeks, swede and celeriac, if using. Saute for a few minutes and then return the meat to the pan. Meanwhile, heat the red wine.
Add the tinned tomatoes to the pan and chop them down into the meat and veg. When the liquid is bubbling away merrily, add the wine to just cover. Once the pot has come up to the bubble again, tuck the bouquet garni down into the depths, add a circle of greaseproof paper (a cartouche) to just cover the stew and put the lid on. Transfer to the oven and cook for 2 hours or until the vegetables are tender but not reduced to mush.
Meanwhile, make the dumplings. Sift the flour into a large bowl and throw in the suet. Add the herbs, mustard or horseradish and seasoning, and mix with your hands or a spoon until the dough coheres but is not too wet and sticky. If it becomes too damp, scatter over a little more flour and roll the ball of dough gently. Flour your hands and pull small, walnut-sized pieces of dough from the ball, rolling them between your palms into balls.
About 20 minutes before the stew will be ready, uncover and sit the dumplings on top. Put the lid back on and return to the oven. After 20 minutes, check that the dumplings have swollen and are cooked through. Serve with mash or colcannon.