I tend to cook a lot more in the winter. I especially love Sunday cooking. I’ll spend most of the day in the kitchen given half the chance. The Husband appears to think that I use cooking as an excuse to dodge childcare. I have no idea what he means.
There are certain meals that I tend to make a lot of for Sunday dinner. We love a roast in the HC house. My favourite is gammon – pair it with cheesy tatties and I’m in food heaven. A warming casserole or stew always goes down well too. This stew is the basic stew I always return to. I just love it. It’s the stew my Mum taught me to make. And even the family seem to appreciate it. The dumplings are not essential, but it would be like having the fish without the chips. The balti without the naan. The treacle sponge without the custard. You get the idea.
I made this stew in the slow cooker, but if I don’t have all day, I’ll cook it on the hob for a couple of hours. The recipe is exactly the same, just cook it over a low heat on the hob for about 2 hours.
Ingredients (Serves 4)
2 tbsp plain flour
500g stewing steak
1 tbsp oil
1 onion, chopped
400ml beef stock
1. In a bowl (or a plastic freezer bag works well) tip in the flour and season. Add the beef and toss to coat – I tend to do this in 2 batches.
I buy whatever beef is cheapest for this, whether it be stewing steak, a joint, skirt, shin, whatever. It’s going to be slow cooked so will tenderise really well during cooking. You don’t need anything fancy.
2. In a frying pan, heat the oil over a medium heat and add the meat to brown (do this in a couple of batches if you have a fair bit of meat so as not to overcrowd the pan).
3. Once browned set the meat aside and in the same pan add the onions to soften. If there’s any meaty goodness left in the pan the onions will help to scrape these up.
4. Add everything to the slow cooker (or pan if cooking on the hob) – I added some carrot too – and pour in the stock. I tend to use the Stock Pots you can buy as they’ve got a lot of flavour.
Season well (there’s nothing worse than tasteless stew) and cook on low for about 6-7 hours.
5. To make the dumplings I simply follow the instructions on the side of the suet box. They’re good, so why bother overcomplicating the issue? Make sure to season well so your dumplings aren’t tasteless.
Dumplings (makes 8)
100g self-raising flour
5 tbsp water
I make 1.5 times the quantity on the box which produces 12 dumplings (75g suet, 150g self-raising flour, 8-10tbsp water).
Mix the suet with the flour, season well, then gradually add the water. It’s quite a sticky dough, so just add enough water to bring it all together.
Roll the mixture into balls and place on top of the stew. Pop the lid back on the slow cooker and leave for another hour.
It’s very hard to take an attractive photo of dumplings (especially without natural light), but believe me when I tell you that they are little balls of yumminess, and well worth popping on top of your stew.
You can also cook this in the oven, just cook your stew (covered) for at least 90 minutes at about 160°C, then top with the dumplings and cook (uncovered) for another 30 minutes.
This recipe makes quite a lot of gravy, because with dumplings, I don’t believe you can have too much gravy. It’s dead simple, but proper comfort food. I think that everyone (who isn’t vegetarian) should have stew and dumplings in their cooking repertoire.