I was thrown down the challenge by Morrison’s of coming up with my perfect British beef dish, using fresh seasonal ingredients. It’s to promote their new range of fresh beef from traditional British breeds including Shorthorn, Hereford and Aberdeen Angus. The range is available from the in-store butcher (where all beef is 100% British).
I’ve not been cooking a lot of meat lately with the whole vegetarian husband and son thing – so I jumped at the chance to get my hands on some flesh for a change.
One of my favourite beef dishes in the world, is beef and ale stew – it’s one of those winning recipes that you make again and again and never get bored of how delicious it is and how amazing it makes the whole house smell.
I nipped into my local branch of Morrison’s and the lovely in-store butcher selected a juicy wedge of braising steak from the gleaming counter, and then diced it in front of me.
To make my recipe a bit different to my usual version, I added green lentils to the mix to bulk it out and get a bit of fibre in there. I also used seasonal butternut squash to replace the carrots I’d ordinarily have opted for. And in the final flourish, I topped the whole thing off with good old fashioned dumplings!
I’m hoping this will win me some votes… who can resist dumplings?! They’re much fluffier in texture than you think they’re going to be and are the perfect vehicle for mopping up that boozy gravy.
To our children’s generation of Pizza Express scoffers – they look like dough balls and make a change from mash.
If you like the look of my recipe, you can always mosy on over to the Morrisons’ website and vote for my dish…
Beef and ale stew with mustard and thyme dumplings
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 3 hours, 15 minutes
1 large onion, chopped
2 sticks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and chopped
85g dried green lentils
4 dried bay leaves
600g braising steak, chopped into chunks and seasoned with black pepper
1 heaped tbsp plain flour
1 beef stock cube
1 x 400g tin plum tomatoes, chopped
500 ml bottle of dark ale
For the dumplings
200g plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp dry English mustard
1/2 tsp salt
a few sprigs thyme, leaves picked
approx 1/4 pint cold water
To make the stew
1. Preheat your oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Put your casserole dish over a medium heat with a generous couple of splashes of olive oil, then gently fry the onion, celery, garlic, squash and lentils for 10 mins until softened.
2. Add the meat and flour, and then crumble in the stock cube stirring thoroughly. Pour over the beer and tomatoes – rinsing out the tin with a little water to add to the stock.
3. Bring to the boil then cover and put it the oven for 2 1/2 – 3 hours. Check and see how it’s doing. If it’s too runny then leave the lid off for the final 30 minutes or so.
To make the dumplings:
4. In the final hour of cooking sieve the flour, baking powder, mustard powder and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add the suet and then mix in using a palette knife to cut the fat into the flour.
5. Stir in the thyme leaves and then gradually pour in the water to bring the dry mix into a soft dough. I used the dough hook on my mixer for this, but you could easily do it by hand.
6. Divide the dough and roll into about 10 ping pong sized balls. In the final 15 minutes of the stew cooking, nestle the dumplings evenly across the top of the meat, replace the lid, and return to the oven for the last quarter of an hour. Then remove the lid and keep cooking for a further 5-10 minutes, to allow the outside of the dough to dry out a bit.
7. Serve as a one-pot supper, or add some blanched greens on the side if you wish.
Thanks to Morrisons for providing me with the ingredients for this dish