Monday, 4 October 2010

Beef and Root Vegetable Stew with Herb and Mustard Dumplings

Autumn is finally here in the UK and for me, it is the finest of seasons. The nights may be getting darker, the weather is certainly getting colder, but it all adds to the cosiness of a season that I always anticipate.

When it comes to comforting food, this is the season to eat; hot stews and casseroles, filling sticky puddings and hot custard, steaming oat porridge with syrup. These are the foods of the North East England Gods and I champion every single one of them.

The slow cooker comes into its own during these frugal and busy times and it sits there begging for yet another meaty stew to help fill the house with mouth-watering smells to come home to each evening. Some decent chunks of braising beef, lots of root vegetables, woody herbs and a slosh of red wine and stock are all that is required to make a heavenly stew. And if you can top it with some dumplings, an invention born to stick to your insides and fill the most rumbling of tummies, you can guarantee smiles on faces all round. Enjoy the seasons.

Beef and Root Vegetable Stew with Herb and Mustard Dumplings
Feeds 4

2 tbsp vegetable or sunflower oil
800g braising beef cut into large chunks
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 handful of roughly chopped thyme or 1 tbsp dried thyme
2 tbsp tomato puree
2 heaped tbsp seasoned plain flour
250ml red wine
250ml beef stock
4 carrots, peeled and sliced into thick chunks
2 leeks, sliced into large chunks
1 small swede, peeled and cut into chunks

For the dumplings
200g self-raising flour
100g margarine or butter
1 tbsp English mustard
4 tbsp chopped chives, thyme and parsley
Salt and pepper
Water

1 - Pre-heat the slow cooker or the oven to 160C/GM4.
2 - In a large pan or casserole dish, heat up the oil. Add the beef and fry quickly to seal all over. Remove with a slotted spoon.
3 - Add the onion and cook for a further 5 minutes. Return the beef and stir in the herbs and tomato puree. Sprinkle in the flour and stir for 1 minute.
4 - Add the wine and stock and bring to the boil. Add the vegetables then either pour into the slow cooker or place the casserole dish into the oven.
5 - If cooking in the slow cooker, cook on a low setting for 5-6 hours. If cooking in the oven, cook for 2- 2 and a half hours, checking every hour to see if the liquid is sufficient.
6 - To make the dumplings, run the flour and margarine together then stir in the mustard, herbs and a little salt and pepper. Pour in enough water so that when mixed with hands you have a soft sticky dough. With floured hands form walnut sized balls.
7 - For the final 45 minutes cooking time, place the dumplings on top of the stew and cook until plump and cooked through.
8 - Taste for seasoning. Serve with seasonal greens.

8 comments:

cook it, eat it, enjoy it... said...

I have to agree, autumn is the season for me.
I made a similar stew in the slow cooker on Sunday, adding some chopped butternut squash that almost fully dissolved into the gravy. All it was missing was some lovely dumplings, next time...

littlepinkkitchen said...

Difinitely one good thing about the cold - dumplings. I SO love them!

bellini valli said...

Fall is my favourite season as well. Comfort foods, stunning autumn colour and heart warming dishes like this make the end of summer all the more appealing David.

Antonia said...

Couldn't agree more. Have a lovely venison casserole bubbling away slowly in the oven as I type. Can't wait to get stuck in! Hadn't thought about dumplings though... Good thinking!

cackster said...

Great time of year for this food, eat it outside by an open fire...

sarah said...

The mustard dumplings caught my eye. I love making dumplings, I think because I learned how to make Hungarian Paprikash when I lived there. I recently tried parsley dumplings in soup, which was delicious. But I am now converted to your idea, since I think mustard would liven up a slightly bland stew topping. Thanks for the inspiration!

Orce Serrano Hams said...

Nothing quite like a good stew when it starts getting colder, love dumplings - reminds me of Saturday afternoons at Grandma's when I was a kid!

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

I love your food, David. And this is just so right for the kind of weather we're having right now. Yum!