October 30, 2011

Beef and Beer Stew

   It snowed yesterday, was in 20s overnight, and our heat is broken. This series of events called for some serious comforting, warm food. Queue an amazing recipe I've made a number of times by Not Quite Nigella. It is seriously fantastic, especially if you slow cook it. That's what I did this time, but it just depends on what I have going on during the day. Either way, though, this stew is wonderful.

   The original recipe is in metric, but I have used it and tweaked it so many times that it's now in measurements more familiar to us weirdos who use inches and pounds.

Beef and Beer Stew with Dumplings

What You'll Need:
For Stew:
    2 pounds beef cut into bite sized
    2 onions, diced
    2 garlic cloves, minced
    3 tablespoons flour
    2 cups beef stock
    1, 12 oz bottle of beer*
    3 bay leaves
    1 Tbs brown sugar
    2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
    pinch of salt, to taste

For the dumplings
    1 cup flour
    2 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/4 cup melted butter
    2 eggs
    1/2 cup grated cheese

The Process:
   Brown beef in batches and set aside in your pot. Sauté the onion and garlic in the pan you used to brown the beef and cook until onions are translucent. Add that to pot with beef. Deglaze the pan with some of the beef stock.

   Add the flour and cook for a few minutes to thicken the stock. Add all the stock, beer, bay leaves, sugar and Worcestershire sauce to the pot and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to low and simmer and cover, stirring occasionally for 60-90 minutes until beef is tender. Conversely, if you have a dutch oven, you can cook it in there for a similar amount of time at 300 degrees.

   15 minutes before the stew is done, mix together all of the dumpling ingredients with a fork. If too dry, add a small amount of water. Roll into small balls and set on top of the stew. Replace the lid, turn heat up to medium, and cook for last 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

What's nice is that if you want to slow cook it instead, all steps remain the same except you put all the ingredients into your slow cooker instead of a pot. Cook on low for 4-5 hours, until beef is tender. Remove about a cup of the liquid and thicken it with a little cornstarch just before you add the dumplings. You'll need to cook the dumplings for an additional 15 minutes using this method.

*I have used summer ales, pumpkin beers, lagers, all sorts of different beers and I've never gone wrong (so far). They give it a slightly different taste, but it's always been tasty, especially the pumpkin beer.

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