Stews of many forms have been around for centuries. It is a fantastic meal for the colder seasons of the year and it uses up the tougher cuts of meat that need a long time to become tender. This meal is a one pot wonder that is certain to warm up the coldest winter days (I know what I’m talking about here, I currently live in Scotland). The trick with a stew is not to rush it, if you have a slow cooker this is the ideal recipe to use this for. This recipe will need at least 4 hours otherwise you’ll be chewing the beef for at least a week. I haven’t put red wine in this stew because it’s not something I keep in the house. I am not a grown up yet and think that red wine tastes yucky, but I will put a little instruction if you want to include red wine. I like a rich stew with a flavourful broth, if you too enjoy this type of deliciousness then carry on reading.
Makes: 6x generous portions.
For the stew:
- 2x carrots,
- 1x onion (I used a red onion but you can use white),
- 2x sticks of celery,
- 1/2 a cabbage,
- 750g diced beef,
- 3x cloves of garlic,
- 1x tbsp of tomato puree,
- 3x tbsp of plain flour,
- 2L of beef stock,
- 1x tbsp of soy sauce.
For the dumplings:
- 125g x suet,
- 230g x self-raising flour,
- 8 tbsp x cold water,
- 3 tbsp x chopped parsley.
- First collect your vegetables together. Now celery isn’t always everyone’s thing, what I didn’t like as a kid are those nasty stringy bits you get when you bite one. To overcome this peel the outside edge of the celery stick. That will take away all those horrible strings that get stuck in your teeth. While your peeling, go ahead and do the carrots too and the outside of the onion (obviously not with the peeler).
- For the next step we’re going to chop up all the vegetables. This is a rough chop, you don’t want the pieces too small as after four hours of cooking they’ll be small and mushy. As a size guide roughly the same size as your little finger up to the first knuckle. For your cabbage cut slices roughly 1cm thick. At this point peel and mince your garlic.
3. Chuck all your chopped vegetables, except your cabbage, into a large pan (I mean large. At least 3L). With a splash of oil and heat on a medium/high heat. You’ll want to rapidly sweat these off until they’ve softened just a little and then throw your diced beef in the pan too.
4. When your beef is in turn the heat up to high. Make sure to keep stirring the mix constantly. Don’t worry if your beef sticks a little to the bottom of the pan we’ll get that off in a minute.
5. Once your beef has browned add your cabbage and stir in, it will not take long to soften. Turn the heat down to medium and add your tomato puree and minced garlic. Cook this out for two minutes. If you’re adding red wine, now is the time. Let it bubble and cook out the alcohol until it’s reduced and is slightly thicker in consistency.
6. Next step is to add your flour. This will thicken up your stew so it is an essential step. Add your flour to your pan and stir vigourously. You want every piece of vegetable and beef to be coated in flour. The contents of the pan are going to thicken dramatically, keep stirring otherwise the flour will burn. You need to cook off the flour for around 2-3 mins, this is so that your stew doesn’t have that powdery flour taste.
7. Heat your beef stock up before adding to your pan. Add the stock little by little, while your adding it deglaze your pan (get the little bits off of the bottom). Once all your stock is added you’re pretty much there! I like to add a tablespoon of dark soy sauce at this stage for colour and flavour. It is important that you don’t season it anymore. This is going to cook and reduce for at least four hours if not longer, if you season it fully at this stage it’s going to become overwhelmingly salty when you’re ready to eat it.
8. At this point turn the heat way down to a simmer and let the stew do it’s thing. If you can, check on it every hour or so and give it a little stir. If you can’t, don’t worry.
4 HOURS LATER…
9. Right now your stew should be thick and taste fabulous. Time to season with salt and pepper liberally. If your stew is looking a little thin you can mix a tablespoon of cornflour with two tablespoons of water and add that in to thicken it up. It is important to make a slurry and not to add your cornflour straight away, otherwise you’ll have lumps of cornflour floating in your stew, which we can all agree does not sound great.
10. About 30-40 minutes before you want to eat you’ll need to prepare your dumplings. Mix the suet, flour, water, and chopped parsley together. You’ll want the mix to be mouldable but slightly tacky to touch. Mould into balls weighing roughly 20 grams each and gently slide these into your stew. Cover with a lid and let them cook for about 20-30 minutes. You’ll know they’re cooked by them increasing in size and if you touch the top of a dumpling it won’t be sticky.
11. Your stew is now ready to go! For my dish I boiled a few new potatoes and broccoli florettes, but it would be just as nice by itself.
I hope you enjoy this warming dish as much as I do. It’s something I like to start cooking around lunchtime; the smell as it simmers for the rest of the day makes you really look forward to dinnertime. There’s a variety of ways this can be enjoyed, sometimes I like to toast a crusty piece of bread and enjoy it as a thick soup the next day. How do you enjoy your stew?
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