I absolutely adore making a roast dinner on a Sunday, but another favourite of ours is this delicious slow cooked beef and red wine stew with dumplings. Sunday dinners can sometimes be quite labour intensive, but this one is so easy: once you’ve done a quick bit of browning off, the whole thing goes back in the oven until you add the dumplings, and then you’re basically on the home stretch. I love to add some fresh (or dried) herbs to the dumplings, and serve it with either piles of creamy mash, or one of our new favourites, these delicious, sage scented sweet potatoes. I prefer to use veggie suet in my dumplings as it gives a much lighter, fluffier texture than if you use butter, but of course feel free to use whatever you like. This stew also makes the perfect filling for a pie too. Perfect for a chilly autumn evening.
Slow cooked beef and red wine stew with dumplings
Serves 4 generously
1 large red onion
600g diced beef (look for braising or stewing steak with a bit of fat on it)
3 tbsp plain flour
Salt and pepper
Glass of red wine
500m beef stock
For the herby dumplings
100g self raising flour
50g vegetable suet
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
Sage roasted sweet potatoes
1 large sweet potato per person
5 or 6 fresh sage leaves
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C/gas mark 3
Firstly, using a nice heavy based casserole dish, heat the oil and fry the chopped onion until it’s just translucent and starting to brown. Scoop out the onion with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Next, pop the flour into a bowl and season really well. Toss the beef in the flour, coating each piece, then adding a bit more oil to the pan, start to fry the beef pieces – don’t crowd the pan, just do a few at a time. When each piece is done, just reserve it with the onion and add in another one. Be brave, you want them really lovely and brown. This bit isn’t compulsory but it adds flavour and will make your stew lovely and rich and thick.
By this stage, the bottom of the pan will be all sticky with all the bits of beef and flour. Deglaze the pan by pouring in the glass of wine and bubbling it away while scraping at all the lovely sticky bits with a wooden spoon.
Now you can add your beef and onions back in, and pour over the beef stock. Give it a stir, pop on the lid and put it in the oven for an hour.
Meanwhile, you can get to work on your dumplings and sweet potatoes.
For the dumplings: measure out the flour and suet, season well, then add a couple of tablespoons of water to bring the mixture to a thick dough. Flour your hands, take out spoonfuls of the mixture and roll them into dumplings. You should get about 8. Leave them to one side while you prepare the sweet potatoes.
For the sweet potatoes: I use nice big sweet potatoes. Just peel them, cut them into quarters, then cut each quarter into thick wedges. Leave the sweet potatoes to soak in a large bowl of cold water (this gets rid of the starch and helps make them extra crispy).
After an hour, take the stew out, give it a stir and pop in the dumplings. Put the lid back on and put the stew back in for around half an hour (no peeking!).
Drain the sweet potatoes and while they’re still in the bowl, drizzle generously with olive oil, season and sprinkle over the chopped fresh sage. Tumble them all out onto a baking try and put it into the oven with the stew.
The potatoes should take around 30 – 40 minutes (the stew will wait if the potatoes need another ten minutes).
And that’s it! Serve with some simple seasonal vegetables (or do what we do and stir in some peas and chopped carrots just before you pop on the dumplings, then you have an all-in-one lazy meal that you can eat from a bowl with a spoon.)
If you’ve got guests coming over for bonfire night, or even for a festive get together, you can make really make this dish special by using port instead of red wine and adding in some orange zest. You could even add in some cranberries. too. Yum. Just make sure the dog doesn’t get there first!