This type of meat stew washed up on the New England shores with the colonists. If the Puritans hadn’t already been making it in England, they likely learned it from the Dutch (the Puritans who eventually landed in New England originally fled to the Netherlands before leaving for America).
On a trip to the Netherlands a few years ago, I was invited to dinner at the home of a local family. The meal was described as “truly Dutch”. It was a beef stew that was almost identical to what I’d been raised on in New England.
Great for warming up a house on a dark winter day, hearty and nutritious, beef stew is the original stick-to-your-ribs meal. I like mine with dumplings. It’s like having fresh baked bread on top of your stew.
Classic Beef Stew with Dumplings
3 hour 20 min
1 1/2 lb beef (any stew cut) cubed
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons canola oil
15 pearl onions
15 small to medium mushrooms
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 parsnips, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons chopped scallion
2 tablespoons chopped sage
1 quart vegetable or beef stock
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup light cream or half and half
Start by peeling the onions. To do so blanch them in boiling water for about 3-4 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Cut off the root and make a slight knotch in the skin (a paring knife works well for this). Pinch the opposite end. The onion should easily slip from the skin. Remove any remaining long strands or dark spots.
Toss the beef with salt and the 1/4 C flour. Heat canola oil in cast iron dutch oven (or oven-proof stockpot) over medium-high heat. Add the beef and sear on all sides. Reduce heat to low and pour one cup of stock over the beef and stir to break up any bits stuck to the pan. Add the vegetables, scallion, sage and the rest of the stock. Cover and simmer on low heat for 1/2 hour.
Move to a 325 degree oven and braise uncovered for 2. 5 hours, stirring occasionally. (I use the oven for this rather than the range because the stew cooks more evenly and there’s less risk of burning the bottom.)
Make the dumpling batter by combining the 1 C flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar. Stir in the cream and oil.
Using a greased tablespoon, scoop dumpling batter into the stew. Cover and return to the oven for 10 minutes to allow the dumplings to brown. Remove cover, move the rack closer to the top of the oven, increase heat to 450 degrees and cook for another 15 minute. This will lightly brown the dumplings.
Serve hot with a good glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.
Ingredient Origins: Organic grassfed beef – Maine; Flour – Vermont, Organic pearl onions and carrots – California; Parsnips – New Hampshire; Scallion – my own kitchen; Sage – Massachuestts, Cream – Massachusetts