Recipe: Easy Beef Stew with Thyme Dumplings

Easy Beef Stew with Dumplings

Yes I know. My first recipe of the year is usually something super healthy like my California Fresh Crab & Avocado Summer Rolls with Creamy Miso Yogurt, Salmon Poke Bowls or my Roasted Almond, Tomato & Feta Five Grain Bowl, but to be honest this year I’m just not feeling it. Rather than filling my fridge with everything bright, crunchy and colourful all I want to do is cook food that is rich and cosy. So, for my first post of the new decade I wanted to share a cosy classic I’ve come back to again and again but (up until now) I have never shared: a simple and forgiving beef and veg stew, topped in the final few minutes with fresh thyme-flecked dumplings.

Beef Stew with Thyme Dumplings

I don’t know why I started making it. I think I must have been getting an abundance of yellow sticker, reduced to clear stewing beef in Waitrose and filling my freezer, and I must have thought stew would be a good idea. I don’t have good memories of dumplings growing up, I can’t remember ever having them at home and nothing rings a bell from school dinners, but now I think that these little pillows of beef suet, flour, water and herbs is one of the most magical things about winter eating. I’ve played with this a fair bit, learning what veg works in place of others to empty the vegetable drawer and scaling it down to serve 2 (because there are two of us, and my deep casserole, gifted to me by the team at Uncle Ben’s rice for this collaboration but never pictured – hence why it is bright orange – only really fits enough for that many) but it started life as a James Martin one for BBC Food.

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Easy Beef Stew with Thyme Dumplings

  • Author: Rachel Phipps
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 hours 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 2 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: One Pot
  • Cuisine: British

Description

This easy beef and vegetable stew topped with fluffy thyme dumplings is great to make for cold, January evenings, served with a good bottle of red wine, and perhaps some Mustard Mashed Potatoes to soak up all those delicious juices.


Scale

Ingredients

For the Beef Stew

  • large knob unsalted butter
  • light oil
  • 400g (14 oz) cubed beef stewing steak
  • 1 heaped tbsp plain (all purpose) flour
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 leek
  • 1 brown onion
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 large celery stick
  • 1 small potato
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 250ml chicken or beef stock
  • 75ml red wine
  • 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh thyme

For the Thyme Dumplings

  • 65g (2 oz) plain (all purpose) flour, plus extra for shaping
  • 30g (1 oz) beef suet
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme
  • 34 tbsp cold water

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees (350 fahrenheit). Heat a large knob of butter and a splash of oil in a heavy bottomed, lidded casserole over a medium high heat. Generously season the flour with salt and pepper in a shallow dish, and toss the beef in the flour so that it is lightly coated.
  2. Working in two batches, fry off the beef so it is well browned, transferring it with a pair of tongs or a slotted spoon to a plate lined with kitchen paper to drain off any excess fat.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables. Top and tail the leek, and cut into into 2cm rings. Peel and cut the onion into wedges, and peel and cut the carrot into bite sized chunks. Top and tail the celery and cut it into similar chunks, and peel and cube the potato.
  4. Fry the vegetable off in what oil remains in the pan for 4-5 minutes until it has just started to soften. Peel and crush the garlic, and add it to the pan, frying for a further minute until aromatic.
  5. Add a splash of the stock and using a wooden spoon scrape off any browned bits from the bottom of the dish. Add the rest of the stock, the wine, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and thyme.
  6. Turn up the heat and bring the pan to the boil. Clap on the lid and transfer the casserole to the oven to cook for 1 hour, 30 minutes until the beef and vegetables are tender.
  7. Meanwhile, to make the dumplings combine the flour, suet, baking powder, thyme and a pinch of salt in a small to medium bowl. Gradually add the water a spoonful at a time and using an eating knife and a simple cutting motion, bring the mixture together into a sticky dough.
  8. Remove the stew from the oven. Add a splash more water if you think it is drying out (this will depend on how well the lid of your casserole keeps in moisture) and check the seasoning to see if it needs any more salt and pepper.
  9. Cut the dumpling dough into four equal pieces and using lightly floured hands roll each piece into a small ball, dropping them into the stew as you go.
  10. Return the stew to the oven without its lid for 20 minutes until the dumplings are puffed and golden. A sprinkling of parsley (flat leaf or curly) would not go amiss when serving, but it is by no means essential.

Notes

The original recipe contained swede (rutabaga) instead of potato but I find it is a rather a contentious vegetable, so feel free to switch it back in if it is a favourite or you’ve got a load to use up lurking at the bottom of the fridge.

I’ve made the dumplings with plain wholemeal flour before, as well as regular white plain.

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