That time of the year…
It’s Autumn again, our yard is covered in yellow leaves fallen from the trees that look so beautiful and lush in the summer, and the days are getting shorter and shorter. No surprise then it is nice to spend a friday night at home watching telly and cooking a hearthy, delicious beef stew. Ok it shows my age perhaps but having ordered Abel & Cole new organic beef range, I thought it deserved a proper use.
The web is full of stew recipes and having made it tons of times before, today I found myself googling for ideas to make it just slighly different. I found so many odd suggestions from adding lemon peel to olives, and decided not only to make pretty much my usual, but then also blog about it because sometimes simple things are the best.
Italian recipes serve stews often with polenta, which I love, but @bmcboy hates; in true British style, I made dumplings, this time pimping them with ‘cacio and pepe’ which is uber trendy now as a pasta version. I used lots of cheeses and black pepper in them and made them from scratch, as we no longer buy Atoora suet due to the fact that it contains palm oil.
Mix as match as much as you wish, and find my version below.
- 1kg organic beef (I used half stewing steak, half chuck
- 3 long shallots, chopped roughly
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 2 bay leaves
- A twig of rosemary
- Sage leaves
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 beef stock cube (I used Kallo organic)
- 1/3 cup red wine
- White flour
- Salt, pepper
- 2 carrots, chopped in 1cm roundels
- 1/2 courgette, chopped as above
- 1/2 sweet potato, cubed
- 100gr baby new potatoes
- Handful of broccoli florets
- A few drops of Worcester sauce
- FOR THE DUMPLINGS
- 100gr white self raising flour
- 20gr butter, grated
- 30gr Grana Padano, grated
- 10gr pecorino, grated
- 10gr cacio ricotta, grated
- Freshly grated black pepper
- A pinch of tarragon
- 5tbsp cold water
- Start with the stew, part 1
- Heat the oil in a flame proof casserole, on medium. Add the shallots, the herbs and let them brown. In the meantime, in a bowl, coat the meat (chopped in 3cm or so cubes) in the white flour, salt and pepper. Once the vegetables are ready, add the meat on high heat and let it brown too. Once very hot, add the red wine and let is evaporate, deglazing the pan as you go along, with a wooden spoon. Separately, prepare the stock with roughly half a lt of hot water. Once ready, add the stock to the pot, and finally place in a pre-heated oven (180c fan). Let it cook, covered, for about an hour.
- After an hour, ready for part 2.
- Chop the rest of the vegetables and then take out of the oven, stir and check for salt and pepper, adding more water if it has dried up too much. Add the vegetables, ensuring they are all covered by liquid to ensure cooking. Place back in the oven for another hour; check again, by now the meat should start to cook properly and fall apart. Adjust salt and pepper, add Worcester sauce and the dumplings (see below how to make them). Cover up again, and let them cook 25 minutes or so. Finally, ready to serve!
- How to make the dumplings: sift the flour in a bowl, grate the various cheeses on top, and the butter (cold from the fridge), then add salt and lots of black pepper and a pinch of tarragon, if of taste. Finally add the water, you might need to add a little more, or then a bit more flour, depending on how the flour absorbs the water. Mix well (I use a metal spoon), then divide into balls of around 4cm diameter each. I use two tablespoons to do this, but hands work fine too!
- Dumplings will raise in the oven so try to space them out; ensure the stew is covered with liquid or it will get too dry when the dumplings cook, so add a little water or stock if necessary.