Beef Stew with dumplings

Monday morning again – don’t these bloody Mondays come around fast? Still, we had a lovely Sunday and also a peaceful night’s sleep last night as Dizzy decided to cease her whining and postpone her excavation of the bottom of the kitchen door and sleep relatively soundly until 5am, when she started to cry. I went and shushed her, and she was quiet again until the boys got up. Result. She’s proving to be a very good girl indeed.

So, in the spirit of non-doggery bloggery, here’s what I cooked for Sunday lunch. There’s many variations of Irish Stew (Rachel Allen uses lamb chops) but this is mine:

Beef Stew with Dumplings

Big pack of stewing steak (Irish obviously)
3 tbs plain flour, seasoned
3 tbs olive oil
2 onions, chopped (or use baby onions)
Mushrooms, sliced
Carrots, cut into four
Large glass red wine
2 x beef stock cubes

For the dumplings:

100g self raising flour
50g vegetable suet
Big pinch salt
About 5 tbs cold water

Cut up the meat into large chunks, trimming off all the excess sinew (leave the soft fat – it’ll melt into the stew). Heat the oil in a casserole dish. Season your flour with salt and pepper and toss one handful of meat in the flour, then fry until brown on the outside. Remove this meat to another bowl, and carry on with another handful and so on until all the meat is browned. Then, fry your chopped onions (you might have to add a bit more oil) and reserve those with the meat. Make up your stock with a couple of litres of boiling water.

Next, turn up the heat and slosh a generous glass of red wine into the pan to bubble up and scrape at all the bits in the bottom of the pan. Then add your meat and onions back in along with your stock and mushrooms and carrots. You can also add swede or parsnips. I cut the carrots quite big because I can’t be trusted to remember to put them in later – this way they don’t get too mushy. Stick your casserole in the oven on a low heat (about 160/170 degrees) and forget it for an hour and a half.

To make the dumplings, just bung all the dry ingredients in a bowl and add the water carefully until you’ve got a nice soft dough. You might not need all of it. Roll the dough into little balls (I make seven but..whatever), then just pop them on top of your casserole for the last half hour. Make sure your lid fits properly as they need to steam to make them nice and fluffy.

If you’re devious and cruel, like me, remove a couple of cooked carrots, puree them then add them back into the gravy (don’t tell #2). The flour that coated the meat thickens the gravy and it’s all rather yummy. If you don’t do the dumplings sometimes you may need to leave the lid off for the last bit of cooking to reduce the gravy a bit.

Scoff with fluffy mash and broccoli, ignoring complaints from small children that broccoli is made of poison. It’s not, honest.

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