Simple Beef Stew and dumplings is a great British dish and just perfect for colder days. This stew recipe includes plenty of root vegetables, which are in season in atumn and winter. Adding lots of vegetables not only makes for a tasty dish, it also helps make the meat go alot further. The secret to a good stew has to be long, slow cooking. The meat should be so tender it falls apart.
If you can, I would always recommend making a batch of a beef stew. Due to the long slow cooking, it is much more economical and uses less energy in the long run if you can cook a larger amount. The recipe card below allows you to double or triple the quantities. As with all recipes, you may not need to quite double or triple the quantity of stock. Just add enough so that the meat and vegetables are covered. This recipe includes red wine which gives a real depth of flavour. If you don't want to use wine, replace the quantity with additional stock or try cooking wine which has a much lower alcohol content than ordinary wine. If you need to keep the stew warm after cooking, put it on a low heat of 110°C/225°F/gas ¼ until you are ready to eat.
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What cut of meat is best for stew?
The good news, is that the best cuts of beef for using in stews, are the less expensive tougher cuts. If you use a cut that is already tender, it can dry out with slow cooking. Chuck is probably best for stewing. Other cheaper cuts including skirt and shin are also good. Your butcher may have something called 'stewing steak' or just 'diced beef' which will be from cuts such as chuck. You'll be able to tell from the price as it will be cheaper than other beef.
Do you need to brown the beef first?
Browning beef means first frying the cubes of beef in your casserole dish over a high heat, before adding the rest of the ingredients. The reason for 'browning' is that it caramelises some of the juices in the pan which adds to the flavour. You need to brown the meat in the pot you will cook in, ideally a cast-iron flameproof casserole with a tight-fitting lid. If you are cooking alot of meat, you will need to brown it in batches. If your beef is piled up in your pan, you will end up stewing it rather than frying it, which won't have the desired effect and could make the beef tougher. Browning should only take a couple of minutes per batch. Stir fry the beef until it is mostly browned on the outside. It doesn't need to be 100% perfectly brown as you don't want to overdo it.
Try to buy locally farmed beef if possible. Local beef from grass fed cattle has a much lower carbon footprint than industrially farmed imported beef. Knowing where your meat comes from is important. You can find more information about this on my Eating Sustainably page. Carrots, swede and parsnips are all in season in autumn and winter. Try to buy them loose and from local sources if possible. It sometimes surprises people to learn that red wine is now available as Fairtrade and is stocked by most supermarkets. Fairtrade wines come from South Africa, Argentina, Chile and Lebanon. You can find out more about them and where to buy here.
Storing Beef Stew
Beef stew can be stored in the fridge for 2 -3 days. It can be frozen for 2 -3 months. If you have any leftover mashed potato, this can also be frozen. Just roll into balls about the size of your hand and place in the freezer on a tray so the balls freeze separately. Once frozen, you can put them in a You can quickly de-frost the mash in a microwave and loosen it with a little butter and milk. A useful quick standby for when you are in a hurry!
Beef Stew with Dumplings
- 2 tablespoon olive oil organic, fairtrade
- 450 g stewing steak organic, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 14 g plain flour organic 7g = 1 tablespoon
- 1 onions organic, peeled and chopped
- 2 parsnips organic, peeled and sliced
- 4 carrots organic, peeled and sliced
- 200 g swede organic, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
- 30 g tomato puree organic
- 500 ml beef stock organic
- 250 ml red wine organic, fairtrade, (optional)
- 2 bay leaves organic
- 2 teaspoon thyme organic
- 3 teaspoon worcestershire sauce organic
- 1 kg potatoes organic, for mashing
- 10 g butter organic (optional)
- 4 tablespoon milk organic (optional)
- 125 g self raising flour organic
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 60 g suet vegetable, light
- Pre-heat the oven to 160°C/300°F/gas mark 2. Add the oil to the pan or oven proof casserole dish, coat the meat in the flour and fry oven a medium heat until lightly browned. Remove from the pan and set to one side.
- Fry the onions over a medium heat for 3 - 4 minutes until browned.
- Add the rest of the vegetables to the pan and fry for 3 - 4 minutes.
- Stir the tomato puree into the stock then add to the pan together with the red wine, bay leaves, thyme and worcestershire sauce. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Transfer everything to an oven proof casserole dish and add the meat. Cover with a lid and cook in the oven for 1½ - 2 hours until the meat is tender.
40 Minutes before eating
- Peel the potatoes and cut into chunks about 2cm², place in a pan of lightly salted boiling water for 8 - 10 minutes until cooked. Remove from the heat, drain and mash with a knob of butter and a little milk.
Prepare the dumplings
- Mix the flour, salt and suet together. Add 5 tablespoons of cold water or enough until you have a pliable dough. Divide the dough into 8 small balls about the size of ping pong balls. Place on top of the simmering stew, cover with a lid and cook for 20 minutes.
- Place on top of the simmering stew, cover with a lid and cook for 20 minutes.
- Remove the bay leaves and serve the stew with the mash.
Nutrition per serving
The Nutritional Values are computer generated estimates based on industry standards and are provided as a helpful guide only.