Lola and Finn's Mum

Lola and Finn's Mum

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Still a bit cold; more comfort food required! Beef stew with thyme and mustard dumplings

Last week's cold snap had me craving tasty stodge once again and this gorgeous stew more than satisfies any cravings. It's a Tamasin Day Lewis recipe once again with a small amount of tweaking. Her original recipe is Beef in Barolo, but unfortunately the contents of my purse won't stretch that far, so this is Beef in Gutsy Cabernet Sauvignon instead.

Dumplings are glorious things. Soft and fluffy, and flavoured with something with a little oomph they are the most amazing and (indeed necessary if you ask me) to any stew. I elected to go down the mustard and thyme route rather than horseradish and parsley and was not disappointed. The hit of heat married fabulously with the unctuous, beefy gravy and soft, yielding meat and vegetables. Utterly delicious.

I halved the recipe you see here, but doubled the dumplings, because Phill and I, frankly, adore them. The stew is amazingly good the next day, should you be in the unlikely situation that you actually have leftovers. We drank the remainder of the bottle of cab and then slumped in front of the roaring fire, the cold snap firmly banished from our minds.

Beef in Barolo (or Cabernet Sauvignon) stew with thyme and mustard dumplings, adapted from Tamasin's Kitchen Classics by Tamasin Day Lewis

Serves 8

For the stew:

2kg braising steak (or suitable stewing cut) cut into large cubes
seasoned flour
2 large onions, sliced
olive oil
4 sticks of celery (which I omitted)
4 large carrots cut into chunks
6 cloves garlic
2 leeks, whites cut into thick discs
1 swede, peeled and cut into cubes (which I omitted)
1 bottle of robust red wine
2 x 400g tins of tomatoes
sea salt and black pepper
a bouquet made with a large sprig of parsley, rosemary, thyme and two bay leaves with two strips of orange peel, tied together, (though I just chopped up some parsley stalks, put in about two teaspoons of thyme with one bay leaf)

For the dumplings:

110g self raising flour
55g suet (I prefer vegetable)
1 1/2 tsp chopped thyme
1 heaped dsrtsp mustard powder
sea salt and black pepper


Pre-heat the oven to 150c/300f/Gas 2

Put the seasoned flour in a bowl or a zip loc bag and then add the meat, shaking or stirring to ensure that each piece is well covered.

Begin to fry off the meat in the olive oil. I use a cast iron casserole pot. Fry in batches, ensuring each piece is well browned. Once browned, remove to a plate. You may need to add more oil.

If there is any seasoned flour left, coat the sliced onions in it and then put them into the pot. Allow them to release their juices. Add the vegetables to the pot in the order that they are listed in the ingredients. When the onions are soft and have turned translucent, return the meat and their juices to the pot.

Stir the meat and vegetables, then begin to add the wine. Add the wine in two or three bursts, ensuring that it bubbles up before you add the next burst.

When the wine is simmering, add the tomatoes. If they are whole tomatoes, then squash them into the stew.

Season with salt and pepper, and then add the bouquet garni, or the chopped herbs and bay leaf if you are me.

Cover the stew and place in the oven for about three hours, checking occasionally to ensure it isn't drying up. You could also cook this on top of the stove on a low heat, but check it regularly and stir it to ensure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pot.

About half an hour before the end of cooking, prepare the dumplings. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and then add a little cold water to bind the ingredients. Be careful with how much you add. You want the mixture to be combined and pliable but not wet and sticky.

Using floured hands, break off bits of the dough and roll into balls about the size of a walnut.

About 20 minutes before the end of the stew cooking time, put the dumplings onto the top of the stew, part submerging into the stew. Replace the lid and allow to cook for the remaining of the stew cooking time. By then they should have swollen and become fluffy.

Serve the stew in warmed bowls with a generous helping of dumplings and a liberal sprinkling of parsley. And if you have wine left, then treat yourself to a glass.


  1. Mmmm, yum - I love the thought of Beef Stew with dumplings. The mustard in these sounds perfect!

  2. There is something about a dumpling that cheers you up and keeps out the cold. Mustard and thyme sounds a fine addition to a dumpling.I wish they made me lose weight as well.


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