I had the lovely Phil Dukes over for dinner and Doctor Who on Tuesday evening as Figgy is unwell. (We opted for Terror of the Autons – and excellent it was too!) I decided I wanted something warming and stew-y, and so after looking at a few recipes online I threw this together. It came out rather well, if I do say so myself! Because I cobbled it together rather than following a set recipe some of the amounts are a bit approximate, but you can always add more or less, as you prefer.
For the stew:
4 tablespoons of olive oil
500g of braising steak, diced
2 brown onions, peeled and sliced
1-2 large carrots, peeled, sliced and quartered
1 leek, thickly sliced
6 medium-sized, new potatoes, peeled and diced
150g of smoked pancetta lardons
2 fat garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
500ml of hot beef stock (as I was serving this with Brussel’s sprouts, I par boiled the sprouts and used the cooking water to make the stock, thus retaining the vit’mins!)
200ml of red wine
2 tablespoons of tomato purée
4-5 sprigs of thyme
3 bay leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the dumplings:
125g of self-raising flour
65g of shredded beef suet
Salt and pepper to taste
Leaves from 3 stalks of thyme
Water to bind (you’ll have to judge it as you go along.)
Pre-heat the oven to 180
In a large saucepan heat half the olive oil over a medium heat and then fry the beef until browned all over. Remove from the saucepan and set aside. Pour away the oil.
Return the pan to the heat, put the remaining oil in and fry the onions for 4-5 minutes, over a medium heat until softened and starting to colour. Add the sliced garlic and leek and cook for a further minute or so.
Then add the pancetta lardons and cook for a couple of minutes until they start to go crispy.
Add the red wine and use it to deglaze the bottom of the pan – scraping up any meaty bits. Then return the beef to the pan and add the stock, carrots, diced potatoes, thyme, bay leaves and tomato purée. Stir well to combine.
Season, then bring to the boil.
Take the pan off the heat and transfer to entire contents to a casserole dish. Pop a lid on and place in the oven for 1 hour and 20 minutes.
Whilst the casserole is in the oven, make the dumplings.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, suet, thyme leaves, salt and pepper. Slowly add the water, a little at a time, stirring to bind everything together. (NB: you don’t want your dumplings to be too wet, otherwise they won’t rise properly. If you add to much water, then just add more flour to compensate!)
Once you have a suitable dough, that is not too wet, then divide it into 6 even pieces and shape them into balls. Set aside until required.
Once the casserole has been in the oven for an hour and 20 minutes, remove it from the oven and gently place the dumplings on the top of the stew. Leave the lid off and return to the oven for a further 20 minutes, until the dumplings have risen and are golden brown.
A delicious stew, if I do say so myself. I served it with cheesy Brussel’s sprouts and sautéed black cabbage.