recipe - The perfect beef stew - The Guardian

The perfect beef stew

Beef stew
By Johnny Acton and Nick Sandler

Here is a rich, addictive stew to warm the cockles of your heart. It is a thoroughly British alternative to boeuf bourguignon and the horseradish dumplings pack quite a punch.

Serves 4-6

The stew

16 small shallots, peeled
olive oil
800g diced beef
25g butter
200g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
150g fresh tomatoes, chopped
400ml Duchy Originals ale
3 bay leaves
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme

The dumplings

120g shredded suet
250g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
11/2 tsp baking powder
40g finely grated horseradish - to avoid an emotional experience, grate it wearing a swimming mask or under an extractor hood
1 tsp mustard powder

Gently fry the whole shallots in a little olive oil in a large pan until browned. Remove them from the pan and reserve. Splash a little more olive oil into the pan and turn the heat right up. Hard fry the beef in small batches until browned and reserve.

Place the butter in the pan and fry off the mushrooms. Then add the tomatoes and ale and reintroduce the beef and shallots. Add the bay leaves and thyme and simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Add water if necessary.

To make the dumplings, first rub the suet into the flour, salt and baking powder in a large bowl. Add the horseradish and mustard powder, and gradually mix in water until you have a firmish dough. Separate the dough into 12 walnut-sized dumplings. To finish off the stew, preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Pour the hot stew into a casserole dish, making sure there is enough liquid in it. If you are uncertain, add a little water.

Stud the dumplings into the stew, leaving a space between them to give them room to rise. Cover the casserole dish with its lid or tin foil, and bake for 30 minutes. Then take off the lid, turn up the heat to 220C/gas 7, and cook for another 10 minutes to brown the dumplings.

from http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2006/oct/22/foodanddrink.features3

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