Beef Casserole with Mustard and Herb Dumplings

Posted By Kerri

We went to a friend’s place on Saturday night and he cooked beef stew which was lovely. It was particularly lovely as he cooked it outside, over an open fire and we ate it sitting around another, different fire. I’m sure the stew itself would have been just as lovely if we’d eaten it inside but it’s not often you get to eat around a fire (unless you go camping a lot which I don’t) so that made the whole thing even more, well, lovely really.

As happens often when I’ve eaten at someone else’s house, I came home with the urge to cook the same thing myself. Not because I wanted to do it differently or because I thought I could do it better but because I like cooking and miss the process when I’m eating other people’s food. It’s probably also because I tend to be polite when I’m eating elsewhere and not help myself to a second portion so I want to eat more of the same. Having said that, I don’t think I was that polite on Saturday night; in addition to the lovely fires and lovely food there was also lovely mulled wine (cooked on yet another fire) which tends to help (or hinder, depending on your point of view) with the politeness.

Anyway, I wanted to make beef stew (or casserole, I don’t know what the difference is but we always called it casserole when I was growing up so that’s what I call it) and I also wanted to make mustard dumplings so I did. In addition to the mustard in the dumplings, I also put mustard into the casserole itself which I don’t usually do but I thought would work well. I could have done with more mustard in the casserole itself and less in the dumplings (I’ve adjusted the ratios below) but I was pretty happy with the way it turned out. The mustard in the casserole gave a suggestion of warmth while the flavour of the dumplings was fresher and lighter, not something you would usually associate with suet-heavy dough but reflective of the difference in cooking time. I think I’d use Dijon mustard in both next time, instead of the English mustard in the dumplings.

Beef Casserole
Serves Two – generously

500g stewing beef (shin is really good, if you can find it)
Seasoned flour (flour with salt and pepper added)
1 large onion, chopped
2 sticks celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 bay leaves
Large sprig thyme
Half bottle red wine
1 litre beef stock
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 large carrots, chopped
Large handful button mushrooms

Start by tossing the beef in the seasoned flour and then dusting off any excess (don’t do this in advance as the meat will start to absorb the flour and it will become sticky). Add half the meat to a hot pan and fry until dark brown, remove to a plate and then brown the second half. You don’t want to add too much at once or the beef won’t fry but will stew instead defeating the purpose of “browning”. You want the meat to really brown too because that adds flavour and seals the meat ahead of the long cooking time.

If there are any very brown bits stuck to the pan that are likely to burn then (carefully) remove and discard. Add a little more oil, heat and then cook the onions for a couple of minutes over a medium heat. Next add the celery, garlic, bay leaves and thyme and cook for about five minutes – you want the onions to just start browning but not take on so much colour that they begin to caramelise and become too sweet.

Return the meat to the pan and combine with the vegetables. Now add the red wine and bubble for a couple of minutes until the alcohol has burnt off. Stir in the mustard, add the stock, season and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and cook for 3 hours, checking regularly to ensure there is enough liquid to coat the meat. I actually transferred the casserole dish to the oven at this point as our gas feed is high and I can’t always get it low enough to simmer without boiling. It went in at 150 degrees.

After the three hours I turned off the heat, allowed the casserole to cool down and then refrigerated it overnight. The next day, I added a little more water, the carrots and mushrooms, brought it up to a boil and then cooked it for another hour. You could of course do this all in one go though and then serve. Ten minutes before you want to serve, add the dumplings (if you’re using them) and then sprinkle over the parsley before serving.

Mustard and Herb Dumplings

50g self-raising flour
25g suet
Salt and pepper
Handful chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
2.5 tablespoons water

Combine all the ingredients together and form the dough into dumpling shapes. This mixture will make four regular sized (a little larger than a golf ball) dumplings but I made eight smaller ones instead. As mine were smaller, I dropped them into the lidded casserole dish 10 minutes before serving but you would need to increase that to 20 minutes for larger dumplings.

Nov 17th, 2010

6 Comments to 'Beef Casserole with Mustard and Herb Dumplings'

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  1. Brian said,

    It is always a problem trying not to look greedy, when out, if a dish is realy good. But that was not what i realy wanted to say, I was allways told that a caserole was cooked in the oven and a stew was cooked on the hob.
    Keep up the good bloging

  2. Kerri said,

    That’s interesting, thanks Brian. I did start to do some research last night but didn’t get very far with it.

  3. Steve Fox said,

    I’m with Brian – a stew is something that’s cooked over a flame, whilst a casserole is something that’s cooked in an oven.

    But I always talk a load of gibberish.

    I like the look of your dumplings, mind.

    (see what I mean about the gibberish?)

  4. Caroline said,

    Just wanted to say that I really enjoy reading your website – I love the fact that you write so well about the kind of cooking most people who enjoy food try to put on their table each evening. Thanks v much!

  5. Lilly said,

    Made this for my parents over the weekend, perfect antidote for the cold weather and they loved it! leftovers have made fantastic hugh FW style pasties aswell. Thanks for the great recipies! Lilly

  6. Stephen said,

    Thanks Caroline, great to hear from you 🙂

    Glad they liked it Lilly, the pasties sound like an excellent idea!

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