Steve on the other hand has frequently gone googly-eyed over a slow cooked joint of beef. He is a Northern boy by way of Lincolnshire and I strongly suspect that gravy runs through his veins instead of blood. This weekend I caved and agreed to cook him a beef stew with dumplings. With the proviso that I could get a pizza if I hated it.
I spent ages online looking at different recipes, different cuts of beef, different cooking times and methods and amalgamated a lot of them into this version.
So I thought I would share this recipe here. Before I do I have a few announcements / warnings.
1) This is not healthy. Not even close. It is worth it.
2) If you cannot get shin of beef or beef dripping, do not substitute. Please. I'm begging you. Just go to your butcher and arm wrestle them until they agree to order it in. Most supermarkets should have it on their meat aisle shelves though. It is a really cheap cut of meat. Beef dripping can normally be found near the butter and margarine.
3) If you have any leftovers, try them on top of a slice of buttered bread the next day. Trust me - you will never turn back.
4) It takes a couple of hours. Do not even attempt unless you can spend 2-3 hours near the kitchen.
- Beef Dripping (10g per 150g of beef) (if anyone can find this is smaller packets than the monster I had to get can you let me know?!)
- As much shin of beef as you think your family can handle. Then add a bit more for good measure.
- Small bottle of red wine (or big and drink the rest. Whatever floats your boat)
- 1.5 medium carrots per person - diced
- 1/2 stick of celery per person - diced
- 1/2 leek per person - diced
- 3 small shallots per person - peeled and left whole
- 1 bay leaf per person
- 1 clove garlic per person - peeled and crushed
- 2 fresh sage leaves per person
- 1 tbsp fresh chopped thyme per person
- 5 Chestnut mushrooms per person - brushed and halved
- 250ml liquid fresh beef stock per person
- 100ml beef gravy per person
- Seasoning - salt and pepper
I cheated and got a just-add-water dumpling mix. There is a great dumpling recipe here though http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/beefstewwithdumpling_87333
Pre-heat the oven to 180C
In a large casserole dish that is both hob and oven-proof, melt the dripping.
Add the garlic.
When nicely soft return the beef to the pan and add the herbs.
Pour over the liquid stock, stir it all together, cover, stick it in the oven and cook for 1 hour.
Make the dumplings. If you coat your hands in oil it is easier to roll the dumplings as the dough is very sticky!
Place the dumplings on top of the stew, making sure that they don't touch each other or the edges of the dish if possible.
Serve with mash potatoes and green vegetables if you feel like it. I find this a hearty meal all on its own though.