On Tuesday evening I had, as usual, the lovely Figgy over for dinner and Doctor Who, (Although actually we started season two of The Walking Dead) and, as the weather was fairly cold and grotty, I fancied some sort of stew. As I had the day off I could cook something that took a little bit longer than normal. I found this recipe in the Great British Bake Off Winter Cookbook and thought it looked delicious. I was particularly drawn to the walnut dumplings, which sounded interesting. I thought I’d also attempt some sautéed kale, which was inspired by the sautéed black cabbage that Matt had had when we were out at the pub on Saturday evening – I wasn’t sure of the recipe so that was a bit trial and error but it turned out ok.
Serves 6 (obviously I scaled it down for just the two of us, but it was still filling and I had enough left over to make an individual little pie that I shall have for dinner this evening.)
25g plain flour
1.2kg of beef shin, diced
3-4 tablespoons of olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
2 celery sticks, finely chopped (I, as ever, substituted leek for The Devil’s (Watery) Vegetable)
150g of chestnut mushrooms (As I dislike these too I diced a red pepper and used that instead. I was originally thinking of substituting cooked chestnuts, but Sainsbury’s didn’t have any.)
5 garlic cloves, crushed
A small bunch of thyme
2 large fresh bay leaves
450ml of brown ale
300ml of beef stock
2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
1 large knob of butter
15 shallots, peel and thickly sliced
Salt and black pepper
For the dumplings:
80g of self-raising flour
20g of finely ground walnuts (I used a pestle and mortar so mine were still a bit chunky, but that just made the texture of the dumplings nicer.)
¼ of a teaspoon of salt
50g of shredded suet
A handful of parsley, finely chopped. (I left this out, largely due to forgetting to buy any!)
2-3 tablespoons of water
For the sautéed kale:
As much kale as you think will feed however many people you’re feeding. I get ready chopped kale from Sainsbury’s and certainly it being shredded before cooking helps it cook more quickly.
Zest of one unwaxed lemon
A large knob of butter
A large knob of garlic butter
A few good grinds of black pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 160.
Season the flour with salt and pepper and use it to coat the beef.
Heat two tablespoons of oil in a large flameproof casserole (If you have one – I did all of this in a very large saucepan and then transferred it to a casserole dish for the oven) and fry the beef, in batches, if necessary, until browned all over.
Remove the beef from the dish and set aside. Heat some more oil in the dish and gently fry the onion, celery (leek) and carrot for about 10 minutes, until softened. Then add the mushrooms (red pepper/chestnuts/whatever) and cook for a further couple of minutes. Add the garlic and fry for one more minute, stirring well to ensure that everything is well combined.
Return the beef to the pot, along with the thyme and bay leaves. Pour in the ale and stock and add the Worcestershire sauce. Bring to the boil and then cover and place in the oven.
Cook for 2½-3 hours, until the meat is tender and falling apart.
Near the end of the cooking time, mix together the flour, walnuts, suet and parsley in a bowl. Mix well and add enough water to bind into a soft dough. (I only used two tablespoons of water – the resulting dumplings were nice but a little dry – 2½ -3 might’ve been better.)
Shape into balls and set aside.
Heat a knob of butter in a frying pan and gently fry the shallots until golden. (the recipe implies keeping them whole, but I found that they worked better when thickly sliced.)
Stir the shallots into the casserole, then pop the dumplings on top of the stew and return, uncovered, to the oven for a further 20 minutes, during which time the dumplings should fluff up and cook through.
To cook the kale, heat the butter and garlic butter in a frying pan (use the same one as you cooked the shallots in for extra flavour) over a medium heat. Add the kale, lemon zest and black pepper and cook for 2-3 minutes, until cooked through and tasty.
The stew is delicious and the dumplings have a lovely nutty flavour that works well with the rich stew and the tender meat. Lovely.