Slow Cooked Beef Stew and Dumplings
There’s something deeply comforting about Beef Stew and Dumplings and they’re also relatively cheap and easy to make. Cooking the stew over a long period of time helps to become wonderfully soft and almost melt in the mouth. It allows the flavours to blend and infuse and the onions to soften and mellow, making the end result super delicious.
What you will need
For the Stew:
- About 454g of Diced Beef. You can normally buy it ready diced. Braising steak or Beef Skirt can also be used, but that will probably come in a long strip and will need dicing before you use it. You could also use Minced Beef if you prefer.
- One medium onion, peeled and finely diced (or a good shaking of frozen diced onion)
- A tablespoon of sunflower oil (vegetable oil or olive oil would also work)
- A tablespoon of plain flour, seasoned with a little salt and pepper (DO NOT DO THIS IF YOU’RE GLUTEN FREE)
- Dried Rosemary and Thyme or Mixed Herbs
- A peeled and crushed clove or two of garlic*
- Root vegetables to taste ( Carrots, Parsnips, Swede, Potato?) Peeled, and chopped into chunks*
- Mushrooms, wiped and sliced (if you like them)*
- A couple of celery sticks (if liked)*
- A Beef Stock Cube or Beef Stock Pot (or Vegetable Stock Cube) if you have one*
- A shaking of Worcestershire Sauce if you have it.*
- Salt and Freshly Ground pepper to taste.
- Beef Gravy Granules to thicken if needed (If you’re GLUTEN FREE see adaptations below, use Gluten-Free cornflour instead)
* Optional. If you have them and like them use them but if you don’t have them to hand or don’t like them you can leave them out.
Adapt the recipe to make it gluten free
If you need to make the recipe gluten free, leave out the flour and the gravy granules and make a smooth paste out of gluten-free cornflour and cold water instead and slowly add that towards the end of the cooking time before adding the dumplings. Use Gluten-free flour to make the dumplings if you’re gluten free.
To Make Dumplings:
- 200g of Self Raising Flour (or gluten-free flour if you’re gluten free)
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 100g of Beef or Vegetable Suet
- Water to mix.
Method One – if you’ve got lots of time and energy. See below for my quick recipe.
Using this method should give you the best results as browning the meat helps seal in the flavour and sauteeing the onions and vegetables brings out the flavours of the vegetables. But sometimes time is short and you need a quicker method. I’ve added my very quick method at the bottom of the recipe for times when energy levels are low or you haven’t much time. Or both.
Users of a Sear and Stew Slow Cooker.
The whole thing can be made in a Sear and Stew Slow Cooker without needing to dirty a separate pan. HOWEVER if your slow cooker pot is made out of Ceramic (or anything else that’s not metal, you’ll need to do the first 3 steps in a separate pan and transfer them across.)
Step One: Coat the Meat ready for Browning
In a bowl, mix the seasoned flour and the diced beef. [If you’re using minced beef you can skip this step.] The beef should be coated evenly in the flour. This should help the gravy thicken during cooking without going lumpy.
Step Two: Sear or Brown the Meat, and Saute the onions and mushrooms if using
Put the oil into a big pan (if you have a Sear and Stew Slow Cooker which has a metal pan which is safe to go on the hob top, then use that. If your Slow Cooker is ceramic (pot) use a separate pan.)
Turn the hob onto a medium heat and put the pan on the hob
Add the floured beef in the pan and cook for a few minutes until all the beef goes a gorgeus brown colour. Stir to stop it sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Add the diced onions and mushrooms if using and stir gently until they go nice and golden and glossy. Stir in the crushed garlic if using.
Step Three: Add in the Vegetables and Stir
Add the root vegetables and stir those in. If you’re using celery either chop that up and add it along with the root vegetables or lay a stick or two of it on top of the dish as it’s cooking if you’re not keen on the texture. If you’re using a whole celery stick or two, fish it out before you add the dumplings
Step Four: Add in the Herbs and Flavourings
Making sure the lid is firmly on the Rosemary and Thyme jars, gently shake in a good shake of both into the pan. I never measure it, a shake of each is usually enough.
If you’re NOT using a Sear and Stew Slow Cooker, transfer your ingredients to your slow cooker pot now.
Step Five: Add liquid (Stock/Water/Ale/Wine)
Add the stock cube and some water (if you prefer you can use Ale or Red Wine) The liquid needs to be level with the other ingredients but without completely covering it. Slow cookers don’t tend to evaporate so there’s no need for extra liquid. If you have worcestershire sauce add a shaking of this and stir.
Step Six: Cook the Stew
Cook on Low all day, or High all afternoon.
Before adding the dumplings taste the stew and adjust the seasoning (salt and pepper) and if it needs thickening a bit, stir in some gravy granules until it looks right. Just add gravy granules slowly and keep stirring as they can thicken up very quickly.
Step Seven: Make Dumplings
Put the suet and the flour in a bowl, stir gently. Add a little salt and pepper to taste. Stir in enough cold water to make a dough consistency. Using two dessertspoons make dumpling shapes. If you find that the mixture is too sticky add more flour, if you find it’s not sticky enough add a splash more water.
Add to the slow cooker for the last hour of cooking (I normally turn the heat up to high for this)
Quick and Easy Beef Stew and Dumpling Recipe
If time is short:
Put the beef, vegetables, herbs, salt and pepper, Worcestershire Sauce and stock in your slow cooker with enough stock or water/ale/wine to just about cover it. (see photo above, that’s about the level you’re looking for)
Cook on High all afternoon or Low all day.
Thicken using gravy granules before adding the dumplings. Add them slowly and keep stirring as they can thicken up quickly.
Add the dumplings for the last hour or so. Frozen dumplings may take slightly longer.
If you’re very short on time or energy or both, you can buy frozen dumplings which work just as well.