"Uh oh, here come the meat sweats..."
Joey Tribbiani, Friends season 8 episode 9
We too, like Joey, are now wishing that we were wearing super stretchy maternity pants as we write out this recipe for you in what can only be described as a post over-indulgence, meat sweat stupor. We have each polished off two man-sized helpings of beef and dumpling stew. And licked our bowls clean. And been tempted to go back for thirds only to remember that we probably should save some for the little man's dinner! What follows is a recipe for the ultimate in winter warmers. The comfort food to end them all. Nothing beats an honest, rustic, lip-smackingly scrumptious beef and dumpling stew.
Beef & Dumpling Stew
serves 4 - 6 generous portions
Ingredients for the stew:
800g - 1gk diced beef
2 large onions, roughly chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
6 carrots, chopped into chunky rounds
1 - 1.5 litres of beef stock
a splash of red wine/ale
zest of 1 orange
extra veg: mushrooms, celery, potatoes, swede etc
Ingredients for the dumplings:
8oz / 200g self raising flour
4oz / 100g suet
6 tbsp cold water
a generous pinch of dried herbs
a pinch of salt
Making the stew:
Begin by browning the meat with a little olive oil in a big, heavy bottomed (oven-proof) pot on a high heat. No need to make sure it's cooked all the way through, you just want to sear the meat and get some flavoursome juices going in the pot. Remove the meat from the pot and keep aside. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
Put the heat down to medium and add the onions and garlic. This is the moment to add any wine or ale. Fry for a couple of minutes before adding the carrots and any other veg/orange zest. Get the meat back in there and pour over the stock. Bring it all to the boil, cover and stick it in the oven. Braise for at least 3 hours.
Making the dumplings:
When the stew is about half an hour away from being ready, prepare the dumplings. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl to make a firm dough. Divide into 12 little balls and place on the surface of the stew. Cover and put back in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the dumplings are soft and fluffy. If you like your dumplings a bit more golden brown, remove the cover and put back in the oven for 10 minutes.
Serve as is, or with mashed potato.
PS. This stew was made, and the beginnings of this post were written yesterday - Thursday 22nd November - Thanksgiving Day for all our Stateside friends. It is only now as we quickly check over this post and watch back that Friends clip that we've realised the connection. It's nice to think that, without being consciously aware, we too made yesterday a day to take the time and effort to cook a delicious meal and sit down to really enjoy it together. We are humbled and thankful for each other, for all of you, your support and encouragement, and of course for our families and friends and the roofs over our heads. We hope all of you who celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday had a truly wonderful day, and are still feeling sufficiently stuffed!