Sunday, September 30, 2012

Beef Stew with Dumplings

This was probably the greatest experimental recipe experiment I have ever had!  Last week was one of those weeks where I knew I wasn't going to be able to go to the grocery store, so I had to think on my feet. The weather in the Piedmont region is becoming conducive to warm, hearty....soupy meals, so I thought BEEF STEW! The downside was that I didn't have any potatoes. I had planned on making Chicken and Dumpling Soup that week anyway, so I thought, Why not make Beef Stew with Dumplings, instead?

And so, the experiment began.

There are a million ways to make this meal. Some people like a more brothy stew, some like it to almost take the form of a casserole. Some people add wine or beer, others just add broth or even water. I saw recipes for the dumplings that were from scratch, used Bisquik, and even used canned biscuit dough! My point in saying all of this is that you could probably make this recipe tonight with the things you have in your fridge, it's just that versatile!

Beef Stew With Herb Dumplings

Stew Ingredients:
1 lb stew beef, cut into bit size pieces (I actually used a cut of denver steak, and it worked wonderfully!)
4 tbsp fat (I used coconut oil, but I will use bacon fat next time)
3 tbsp cornstarch of flour
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
A handful of baby carrots, sliced into rounds
2 stalks of celery, sliced into half moons
1 cup of frozen peas
1 1/2 cup of mushrooms, sliced thick
5 cups of beef broth
1/2 cup of red wine or dark beer
1 tbsp of worcestershire sauce (I don't think that word could be any more difficult to spell...)
1 tsp chili sauce or powder
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute
Salt and Pepper to taste

Dumpling Ingredients:
1 1/4 cup of flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
2/3 cup milk (I used coconut milk and it worked just fine)
1 tbsp Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute (or any yummy "throw on anything" seasoning blend you have in the cabinet)

1. Salt and pepper your beef. You can actually do this up to 24 hrs in advance and you'll end up with moist, flavorful meat! Then dredge it in the cornstarch (add a little salt and pepper during this step, too!). Heat a skillet with the fat over medium high heat. Then, brown yo beef! When all the sides are brown, place the beef on a paper towel lined plate and set aside.
2. Add all of your veggies (including your garlic) to the pan and let saute for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are translucent and you can tell the veggies have lost a quite a bit of their water content.
3. Now scoop everything into your slow cooker, along with the rest of the ingredients in the "Stew Ingredients" section, and cook on high for about 4 hours. After its done, your stew will look kind of soupy, but I promise the dumplings will turn that broth into gravy :)
4. In a mixing bowl, stir together your dry dumpling ingredients. Then in another bowl, whisk together your wet ingredients. Slowly pour your wet mixture into the dry mixture while stirring the dry mixture. Mix thoroughly so there are no lumps. You'll notice the whole mixture "rising" a bit...that's good!
5. With a teaspoon, scoop the dumpling mixture in your simmering stew by the spoonful. After all the dumplings are in, let the stew cook for another 30 minutes. Check a dumpling for texture to adjust time.

(QUICK TIP: If your soup tastes a little bitter after you add the beer or wine, simply add some lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to the soup and it will take that bitter taste away! I guess it's like a double negative thing...)

Now, partake, and be satisfied by this delicious stew you just created! Go you!


Mrs. Curly Girl

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