Friday, 20 November 2015

COOK: Beef Stew and Dumplings

It's winter. 
These storms, these cold nights, the dry skin on my knuckles. It's definately here.

I'm not very good at proper cooking. I can bake. God, I can bake with my eyes closed. But proper actual food, nah. Except if it's a one pot concoction. And only if I don't put tinned tomatoes in it. I have a habit of putting tinned tomatoes in everything and although sometimes they're nice, they're not nice in everything.

Thankfully, this recipe doesn't have tinned tomatoes in it.

What you'll need:
500g stewing beef
500ml boiling water
A bit of oil
2 beef stock cubes
Plain flour
A handful of small mushrooms, halved
A handful of small potatoes
A carrot
2 cloves of garlic
A knob of butter
A splash of balsamic vinegar
Either a good splash of red wine or a good splash of red wine vinegar (I used the vinegar)
A splodge of Worcester sauce
Salt, pepper, mixed herbs

For the dumplings:
A cup of self raising flour
Half a cup of Atora (full fat!)
Enough cold water to create a sticky mess

That might look like a lot of stuff, but it should be stuff you already have/that's easy to get hold of in your local supermarket.

First melt the butter into the oil and brown the beef in a hot pan. Add the garlic and fry for 2 minutes. Sprinkle with a bit of plain flour and mix about for another 2 minutes. Add the veg - you can add more veg than I've listed if you want to.

Then transfer to a casserole pot with a lid. Pour in the water and stock cubes and other liquids (the vinegars and sauce) as well as the herbs. Leave in the oven at 180C for about 2 hours. After that time, give it a check - mine had got to the stage where if I left it any longer, the meat would start welding itself to the bottom of the dish - and if you need to, add some more water and a touch more flour to thicken it.

I left mine for a further hour, before taking the lid off and adding the dumplings. I've never understood why people don't make their own dumplings - it's as easy as a ready mix, just tastier. I made four individual dumplings, but in the past I've created a sort of 'pie top' out of the dumpling mix that goes lovely and crisp on the top while staying nice and gooey underneath.

Love a good dumpling me.

I baked the dumplings for another twenty minutes or so until I got so hungry I would have eaten them raw. Thankfully, they weren't raw. The whole thing was just right.

You could keep the tiny potatoes out and make a mash instead, or steam some vegetables to go alongside. For us though, bash some stew in a bowl and eating it up steaming hot is the only way.

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