Saturday, 1 September 2012

Beef Stew and Dumplings

What is there not to like about Beef stew and dumplings, it is quite possibly one of my favourite meals. I always offer to make my husband wonderful gourmet dishes, but when it boils down to it he only ever wants one of two dishes, moules marinieres or beef stew and dumplings. I cannot really blame him it is the most comforting dish and was also my pregnancy craving (much to my husbands satisfaction). The secret to a great stew apart from good quality produce are the cuts of meat that I use, I like a combination of oxtail for flavour and shin of beef for texture. To prepare this dish takes barely no time at all, and the wonderful thing about stew is that it takes no more than twenty minutes to prepare and will sit quite happily in the oven, low and slow is always the key.

You will need:
for the stew
100g of butter
500g of Oxtail (it's a cows tail people, do not panic)
600g of shin of beef, preferably off the bone cut into large chunks
5 tablespoons of flour
2 tablespoon of sea salt
2 teaspoon of black pepper
1 teaspoon of all spice
2 Large carrots peeled
3 large white onions sliced
4 stalks of celery sliced
5 sprigs of thyme
2 bottles of beer (500ml beers)
300ml of water
3 know beef stock pots
4 bay leaves
a tablespoon of sugar

For the dumplings
250g flour
2 tsp baking powder
100g of cold butter
125ml of whole milk
a pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 160 degrees
Put the flour, one tablespoon of the salt, the all spice and pepper into a food bag. I then empty the meat into the flour and shake it around so that the meat gets coated with the flavoured flour. In a cast iron pan or casserole pan fry the meat in two batches, I use 50g of butter for each batch. Make sure you fry on a high heat so the meat is golden, this deepens the flavour and colour of the gravy. Remove the first batch of meat onto a plate and fry the second batch, do not overcrowd the pan as this will steam the meat and not fry it. When you have removed the second batch of meat add the sliced white onions, sliced celery and peeled whole carrots, allow the vegetables to become coated in the meat juices. Deglaze the pan with the two bottles of beer and add the meat back to the pan, along with the stock pots, the remaining tablespoon of salt, sugar, thyme and bay leaves. Bring to the boil and then transfer to the oven. Cook with the lid on at 160 degrees for 3-4 hours or until the meat has fallen off the oxtail.
Mix all the ingredients for the dumpling in a food processor until combined and then split the mixture into six large dumplings, remove the lid and return to the oven for 30-35 minutes until the tops are golden and the bottom is fluffy and tender.
If you do not have a food processor rub the butter and flour and baking powder between your fingers and thumbs until it resembles crumbs, add the salt and milk until just combined and cook just as above.

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