Try Darcie’s great Beef Stew with Herbed Dumplings recipe
By Darcie Hossack
Said Chef/husband upon reproducing my “Chili Mac” from last year’s story on Recession Chic cookery: “You just tricked me into making Hamburger Helper!”
Next he’ll tell me my from-scratch scones are just-add-water, quick biscuit knockoffs! Or that the tinned soup conglomerates called and want to know how I came by their formula for tomato soup.
Seriously, though. The remark made for a mutual snicker, and a hearty, economical supper was had by both.
It does, however, have me back to flipping through sub-sirloin meal ideas. And while pasta with ground meat is a satisfying way to keep the coin purse jingling with matinee money, this time its stew ingredients that will headline our weekend grocery list.
Beef Bourguignon, with its rich, dark gravy, comes to mind. As does a recipe for Trinidadian Beef I’ve been hankering after. Or perhaps something saucy, served with herbed dumplings.
Now, admit it. With options like these, a cut of chuck has never sounded so promising, has it?
There was a time, however, when stew ranked not far from tripe on my most reviled foods list.
I blame my mom’s one-time overfondness for celery.
To be fair, Darcie’s Hated Foods was a long list that has shortened substantially in the last decade. Even string beens are a favourite now that I’ve recovered from the horror of canned. And innards and outards of every sort? There’s still not enough ketchup on the entire planet Heinz.
So for anyone who’s waiting for kidney pie, bruleed brains, haggis or marinated cock’s combs served on a bed of otherwise good arugula, well, let’s just say that first I’d have to eat a lot of crow.
But I digress.
For weeks when primary cuts just can’t make the menu, one of the most satisfying ways to stretch a cut of meat that comes from a little too close to the cow’s ankles, is a good braise. All that’s needed is couple of hours in a Dutch oven or countertop Crock Pot, simmering in beefy juices, until all those walking around muscles can’t help but break down into tender mouthfuls.
And lest the chef make allusions to Dinty Moore, I have the very solution. We’ll use his recipe and he can cook it.
Beef Stew with Herbed Dumplings
2 pounds chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tbs all-purpose flour
4 tbs vegetable or canola oil
3 medium onions, medium dice
2 celery stalks, medium dice
10 cloves garlic, sliced
2 medium carrots, medium dice
10 white mushrooms, quartered
1 1/2 cups dry red wine
3 tbs tomato paste
3 cups beef stock
4 sprigs fresh thyme
Toss beef in flour to coat, then shake off any excess flour. Heat half of the oil in a large, heavy Dutch oven. Brown beef on all sides, drain on a paper towel-lined dish.
Heat remaining oil in the same pan and cook onions, celery, garlic and carrot until softened. Add wine and cook, stirring, until liquid reduces to 1/4 cup. Add beef and mushrooms, along with tomato paste, beef stock and herbs. Bring to a boil and cover. Transfer to a 350F oven for 2 hours.
for the dumplings:
1 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
50g (3 1/2 tbs) cold butter
1 large egg, beaten
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup grated parmesan
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in butter until mixture is coarse and crumbly. Beat together egg milk. and Make a well in the centre of the crumbs and add milk mixture, parsley and parmesan. Bring together with a fork until just mixed into a soft, sticky dough.
When the stew has twenty minutes left to cook, remove from oven. Stir and remove thyme sprigs. Drop dumpling mixture by level tablespoons onto the surface of the stew. Return to oven and cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes, until dumplings are lightly golden and cooked through.
Darcie Friesen Hossack is the author of Mennonites Don’t Dance (Thistledown Press, September 2010), shortlisted for the 2011 Commonwealth Prize for Best First Book, Canada/Caribbean and runner-up: 2011 Danuta Gleed Literary Award www.whatlooksin.wordpress.com.