Winter is a wonderful time for beef stew. There’s something about this warming comfort food that makes all your troubles melt away…
The beef in this stew is tender and succulent, the vegetables cooked to perfection and the herby dumplings are exquisite – they simply are the icing on the cake. There’s nothing better than dabbing up the remaining gravy with a good ole herby dumpling!
The trick in getting such comforting dumplings is the suet. I can imagine that most Americans are now shuddering at the thought of eating suet. If you get the chance, buy some Atora suet from a British import store and give it a try – you may be surprised. I have to sadly say, that the butter version of the dumplings are just not the same.
ENGLISH BEEF STEW WITH HERBY DUMPLINGS
Serves 3-4 people
For the stew
- ½ t peanut oil
- 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 450 g (1 lb) stewing/braising steak, chopped into around 2 cm (¾ inch) cubes
- Salt and pepper
- 2 pinches of cinnamon
- 8 g (1 t) “Better than bouillon” stock*
- 60 g (⅓ c and 1 T) plain flour
- 3 T tomato puree
- 300 g (⅔ lb) parsnips, chopped into chunks
- 300 g (⅔ lb) carrots, chopped into chunks
- 300 g (⅔ lb) swede (rutabaga), chopped into chunks
- 2 t dark soy sauce
For the herby dumplings
- 100 g (⅔ c) plain (all-purpose) flour
- 1 t baking powder
- 50 g Atora suet OR 50 g (¼ c) of frozen unsalted butter, grated
- A few pinches of mixed herbs, I usually use oregano, basil and thyme
- Salt and pepper
- Up to 5 T cold water or as needed
* Better than bouillon is a concentrated paste, which you add water to, to make a stock. If this is not available, use stock cubes or ready-made unsalted stock instead of water in step 2.
1. In a large saucepan/pot, fry the garlic and onions until golden brown. Add the beef and brown quickly, season with a little salt and pepper.
2. Add the plain flour and stir, add the tomato puree, cinnamon, dark soy sauce and stock base, followed by enough hot water to make a gravy, that’s not too thick, and not to thin. There should be enough water to easily cover the stewing steak. Stir the “gravy” until you get a smooth consistency.
3. Pop the lid on the pan and allow to simmer for around 1 hour, making sure you stir every 10-15 minutes to stop the stewing beef from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
4. Add the swede (rutabaga), stir, cover and simmer for 15 minutes^.
5. Meanwhile, make the dumplings. In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and suet (or grated frozen butter).
6. To the dumpling mix, add the mixed herbs and season. Add just enough water to the dumpling mix to make a soft, but pliable dough. Knead gently and then form into 10-12 balls, set aside.
7. After the swede (rutabaga) have had their 15 minutes, add the carrots and parsnips, stir, cover and simmer for 5 minutes (add more water if required). Taste for seasoning.
8. Add the dumplings to the stew, carefully coat with gravy, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until they are puffy and floating on the surface of the gravy. Best served fresh and hot, enjoy!
^ NOTE: If at any time, the beef/vegetables are not covered with gravy, add a little more water and stir.