No dish has ever seemed so perfect for a winter's day than a hearty Beef Stew and Dumplings. It has kept the Britain and Ireland on its feet during hard times and through winter storms. It always brings a smile to my family when I serve it for dinner.
Dumplings are made with suet and for this dish there is really no alternative. So if you can't find suet (easy in the UK) then just omit the dumplings.
Watch the How to Make Beef Stew and Dumpling Video
- 2 tbsp all-purpose/plain flour
- 450g / 1 lb/ thick braising steak cut into large chunks
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp brandy
- 115g / 1 cup onion, roughly chopped
- 100g / 1 cup/leeks, cleaned and finely sliced
- 170g / 1 cup carrots, roughly chopped
- 750 ml / 1½ pints dark beef stock
- 115g / 4 oz self-rising flour
- 55g / 2 oz shredded suet
- Salt and Pepper
- In a large bowl mix together the flour and the braising steak chunks
- In a large frying pan heat half the oil to hot but not smoking. Add half the floured steak pieces and brown all over. Remove the steak and place into a casserole. Add the remaining oil to the frying pan, heat again then add the remaining steak and brown all over. Again, add the steak to the casserole.
- Turn the heat up high and add the brandy to the frying pan, stir well scraping up all the meat juices on the bottom of the pan. Reduce to a sticky glaze.
- Add the onion, leeks and carrots to the frying pan, stir well to coat the vegetables with the glaze then tip them all into the casserole. Place the frying pan back onto the heat, stir in a third of the stock and bring to the boil, scraping all the bits from the bottom of the pan. Once all the bits are released, pour the stock into the casserole. Add the remaining stock, cover with a tight-fitting lid, then simmer gently on the stove top or in a medium oven (180 ° C) for 2 hours. Check from time to time to make sure the stock isn't reducing too much. Iff it is, add a little boiling water. The meat and vegetables should always be covered by liquid. You can also make this recipe in a slow cooker if you have one.
Make the dumplings.
- In a large baking bowl mix the flour with the suet and a pinch of salt. Add 3 tbsp cold water and stir. If the dough is dry add more water until you have a soft, slightly sticky dough.
- Divide the dough into 8 and shape into balls with floured hands. Leave to one side.
- After the stew has cooked for 2 hours, remove the lid, check the seasoning and add salt or pepper to taste, then add the dumplings, cover with the lid and cook for a further 20 minutes. Serve hot.
In this Beef Stew and Dumplings recipe I am using leeks, carrots and onion but feel free to add any other winter root vegetables you may have to hand.
For herb dumplings add 1 tbsp chopped fresh herbs (parsley, rosemary and sage work well) to the flour and suet before mixing the dumplings. Or - my favorite - stir a teaspoon of Marmite into the wet dough before rolling the dumplings.