19 June 2011

Back to the Beef Stew - the changing face of Saturday's dinner!

Such a shame those dumplings were so nasty!
You remember how I was intending to make a beef stew with horseradish dumplings on Saturday, but then along came Martin with his intriguing sounding Red Dragon Beef pie?

Well, I'm afraid I had to go back to the beef stew because I couldn't find the Aduki (or Azuki) beans in time to have them soaked, cooked and ready to go.  I did find them, eventually, at Makka's Food Store in Parkstone (don't know why I didn't look there first, to be honest!).  So, I'm all set for this weekend and we'll have another go at it next Saturday.

So, that meant going back to the beef stew and horseradish dumplings.  Which was fine, except I then needed to send faithful Hubby out to fetch a parsnip and a swede.  Thus armed - and with 800g of beef brisket from Spring Fields butchers - I set about making my stew.

I love making stews because they always come out differently, depending on what ingredients you include.  This time, I didn't want to include flour as a thickener.  I thought I'd use red lentils and pearl barley.  The lentils just disappeared, which was lovely as they just added to the thickness and earthiness of the gravy.  The pearl barley just did what pearl barley does and became plump and yummy.  Unfortunately, Hubby isn't so keen on pearl barley and I can really only get away with using it in something like a stew, where it goes down along with everything else and doesn't really get in the way.  The stew came up beautifully thick and with a clarity to the gravy that just doesn't happen when you've used flour.  So I was happy with that.

It looked so good, too!
The beef, as ever, was lovely and wonder of wonders, I didn't over cook the parsnip.  In fact, I do believe some pieces were actually slightly under cooked!

However, I have to take issue with Olive Magazine's rendition of a horseradish dumpling.  The dumplings I made, according to their recipe, were not only a tad wet (which, on its own, would have been forgivable as I don't roll the dumplings but drop them straight into the stew in a kind of free-form pattern) but adopted a really odd kind of sweetness, which I imagine came from the fact that Horseradish Cream was used (as per their recipe).  Put it this way - I won't be attempting horseradish dumplings again, any time soon.  I shall stick to my good old herby dumpling mixture which always works a treat.

As a consequence, I haven't included dumplings in the recipe here.  I don't want to have you thinking that I've tried and tested the recipe and approve of it.

BEEF STEW  (serves 4-5)

Ingredients :

A tbsp of olive oil
800g beef brisket, trimmed of all fat and cut into chunks
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1-2 onions, chopped
1 clove of garlic, grated
2-3 carrots, peeled and diced
half a swede, peeled and diced
a beef oxo cube
water, to cover
1 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp marmite or bovril
a pinch of dried sage
a glug or two of Worcestershire Sauce
4 tbsp dried red lentils
2 tbsp dried pearl barley
2-3 potatoes, peeled and diced
1 parsnip, peeled and diced.

Method :

1.  Pre-heat the oven to 160deg C.

2.  Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and, when hot, add half the beef and sear on all sides.  When seared, decant into a deep pan or casserole dish.  Repeat with the remaining beef.

3.  Add the onion to the pan and reduce the heat.  Allow the onion to cook for around 5 minutes or until it is softened and transparent.  In the last few minutes, add the grated garlic.  When cooked, decant into the casserole dish.

4.  Add the carrot and swede to the casserole dish.

5.  To the frying pan, add enough water to approximately cover the contents of the casserole dish and begin heating it as you add the oxo cube (crumbled in), the tomato ketchup, tomato puree, marmite (or Bovril), sage and Worcestershire sauce.  Allow to come to a boil, then decant into the casserole.

6.  Add the lentils and pearl barley and stir to combine.

7.  Cover and place the casserole in the oven and cook for 90 minutes.

8.  Remove from the oven and add the potato and parsnip.  If you are adding dumplings, you may need to add a little water to increase the gravy level.  Check the seasoning and give a good stir to combine, then replace in the oven for another 60 minutes.

9.  Serve!



  1. I think the dish looks really great Jenny. What l would can, rustic, and, hey.....dumplings, always seem to blend in o.k. No matter what.....! :).
    You know l remember, way back, late 60's.
    The Ship in Weymouth, as it used to be.....A poky little pub, run by a guy called Smith.
    Of course in them days you could have heating hotplates on the bar.
    Well, he used to make a big pot of beef stew, on one hot plate and a pot of mashed potato on the
    other. Mon/Tues/Wens. Small dish...2/6d.
    Then, on Thurs, for the rest of the week....He would put a tablespoonful of vindaloo paste in, convert it to beef curry, with a pot of boiled rice....And, still sell the rest for 2/6d. a bowel. With a pint of Guinness, sheer heaven....! :0).
    But, as you say, like curry, no two stews are the same, that's the beauty of food and cooking.....! :0).

  2. All I can say is that you can never have put Creamed Horseradish in your dumplings then, Willie! LOL I can imagine the pub you are talking about, of course you wouldn't get away with that these days (more's the pity!).

  3. What is it about putting ketchup in stews that make them even nicer? This looks lovely, with all the rain that's been falling this is just what I feel like.

  4. I can only think that it has something to do with the combination of spices that goes into the ketchup, along with the sweetness, of course. It also has a particular kind of tomato-eness (if that's a word! lol) that you just can't get anywhere else. I have been known to include HP Brown Sauce in beef stew before now, too. That takes it in an interesting direction, but you can't use as much as with tomato.


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