One of the things that I bought back from Christmas with my parents was my mother’s old slow cooker, so I’ve been trying out a couple of recipes with it. I fancied a beef stew on New Year’s Day and so I cobbled this together and experimented with the slow cooker.
You could easily adapt this for cooking on the hob, or even in the oven, but the instructions I’ll give here will be for doing it in a slow cooker. I was only cooking for me so this serves 1-2, (as there was enough left over for a second meal) scale it up if you want to serve more, and add more of both liquids if you’re cooking on the hob, not in a slow cooker.
Very tasty – and the long, slow cooking time means that the meat is very tender.
for the stew
50g of plain flour
400g of braising steak, trimmed and cut into 3-4cm chunks
2 tablespoon of olive oil
1 large onions, sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
200ml of beef stock
200ml of dark ale
1 bay leaf
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
1-2 tablespoons of tomato purée
1 tablespoon of Worcester Sauce
1 large carrots, cut into chunks
1 large parsnip, cut into chunks
1 large leek, cut into thick slices
½ a red pepper, de-seeded and diced
for the dumplings
50g of plain flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
25g of suet
1 teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves
30g of extra mature Cheddar cheese, grated
Dredge the beef in the flour until well coated, shake off any excess flour.
Heat half of the olive oil in a large saucepan and cook the beef, until browned all over. Remove the beef from the pan and place it in the slow cooker.
You might need to use a little of the ale to deglaze the saucepan. Add the rest of the oil to the saucepan and fry the onions and garlic, over a medium heat, until starting to soften. Then add them to the beef already in the slow cooker.
Add the herbs, stock, ale, tomato purée and Worcester sauce to the slow cooker, place the lid on and cook for 3 hours on high.
After three hours add the leek, carrot, parsnip and diced pepper to the slow cooker. Season well with salt and pepper and cook for a further two hours on low.
To make the dumplings, rub together the flour, baking powder and suet until you get a breadcrumby consistency. Then add the cheese and thyme leaves, stirring well to combine.
Once the dry ingredients are well combined, gradually add cold water, a little at a time, mixing until a dough starts to form. It’s important not to add too much water as you don’t want the dough to be too damp or sticky.
Once your dough is the right consistency, shape it into balls – you should be able to make three or four – and then place them in the slow cooker, on top of the stew.
Cook on high for a further 40 minutes or so, until the dumplings are fluffy and cooked though.
Serve immediately with some steamed black cabbage.