It's cold. Well, today it's not, but it has been. And I have a sneaking suspicion that it will be cold again soon. Here, then, to stick to your ribs and keep you cozy, is my own very very favourite recipe for beef stew, with my mom's awesome dumpling recipe.
Beef stew meat, in cubes. I guess about a pound or so?
1 tbs oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large chopped onion
1 bottle of yummy stout. We like St Ambroise Oatmeal Stout. Do yourself a favour and pick up a six pack - that way you won't feel left out when the stew gets a bottle.
2 c beef stock, if needed.
2 carrots, cut into "coins"
a few potatoes, cut into chunks
a small turnip or two, peeled and in chunks
1 celery stalk, diced
2 bay leaves
1-2 c frozen peas, depending on how much you like peas.
As you can see, this is a fairly vague and therefore forgiving recipe. It really doesn't matter (within reason, of course) how much of everything you put in, or if you leave somethings out. It will still be a delicious combination of meat and vegetables.
First, brown the beef over high heat in the oil. Add the onions, garlic, and celery and cook until the onions are translucent.
Add the beer and deglaze the pan. Add half the beef stock, and simmer for about half an hour. Toss in the bay leaves, too. Then add the carrots, potatoes, and turnips and add enough beef stock to just cover everything.
Let this all simmer for another 30 minutes, until all the veg is tender. Add the frozen peas now.
At this point, you are ready to make your dumplings.
For the delicious fluffy dumplings, you need:
1 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbs oil
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 c (or a bit more) milk
Mix all the dry ingredients together, then add the milk and oil. Stir until just combined - no more, or you will have tough dumplings and those are no fun.
Drop by the tablespoonful to the boiling stew, then reduce the heat and cover. They'll be done in 12-15 minutes, and so will your stew! If, at this point, you find the stew too liquidy, you can thicken the gravy by adding a tablespoon of flour dissolved in some water, or some Veloutine or instant flour.
Serve with a bottle of the St Ambroise stout!