This summer has been fantastic, I have loved the sun, the heat and eating a lot of salads. Whilst basking in all this however, there was a tiny bit of my happy in the knowledge that come September it might cool down a little and I would be able to light the fire and make some cosy autumn food.
Now, I realise I seem to have dived right into ‘freezing outside, possibly even snowing winter food’ but you know what I couldn’t resist. It has been months since my last stew (I feel that should have been confession) and it was time for a fix. Added to that my little boy asked earlier in the week when we would be having stew and dumplings. Sooner than you think my little treasure I thought to myself.
Here it is and it is a beauty. Very simple, 30 minutes work tops and then a few hours in the oven. What you are rewarded with however, far exceeds that brief effort you put in. Tender falling apart beef, soft carrots, crispy and fluffy dumplings with masses of glistening savoury gravy. You can then sit around the table, enjoy this with some greens and perhaps raise a glass of good red wine to the fabulous summer of 2013.
Beef and Carrot Stew with Parsley Dumplings
1 kg braising beef, cubed
1 tablespoon oil
1 onion, chopped
7/8 medium carrots, peeled and halved lenthways
1 heaped tablespoon plain flour
500ml beef stock
200ml red wine
1 teaspoon redcurrant jelly
Sprig of thyme
For the dumplings -
100g self raising flour
A handful of parsley, finely chopped
5 tablespoons cold water
Pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 150c. Heat the oil in a large casserole (that has a lid) and brown the meat in batches and set aside. Then fry the onion (you may need a little more oil) until softened. Return the meat to the pan, sprinkle over the flour and stir it in well. Pour over the stock and wine and redcurrant jelly, give it a mix then add the carrots, thyme and bay leaf. Put into the oven for 3 hours.
Just before the time is up, mix the ingredients for the dumplings and form into little balls about the size of a walnut and turn the oven up to 180. Remove the pan from the oven, quickly (and carefully) check the seasoning and then place the dumplings onto the surface of the stew. Put the lid back on and return to the oven for 20 minutes, then remove the lid and cook for a further 20 minutes to crisp up the outside of the dumplings. Enough for 4.
We followed this with a fabulous custard tart (I know, I know, bikini appropriate food clearly now forgotten) and it made me proud of British Food!