Braised steak stew... with dumplings...

This is one of those dishes that's best enjoyed during cold, rainy, windy Autumn or Winter days. It doesn't call for many ingredients - just few simple ones which you actually might have at hand at home. Of course the beef is a main performer here and for that I recommend you to go to a trusted butcher (please, if you can only afford it - and it's really not that expensive as you might think - buy your meat from the local butcher rather than a supermarket!). The recipe was also provided with an idea for herby, horseradish dumplings - but for those I had literally 1 ingredient at home... Had to improvise so a quick look through many of my cook books and... a recipe for simple dumplings and all ingredients at hand!
Below the original recipe from "The Irish Beef Book" by Pat Whelan and Katy McGuinness, but for my small family I used only third of the amount given for each ingredients.

How to make it...

- 1,5 kg featherblade steak, cut into portions (I used stewing round steak cuts)
- salt & black pepper
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or rapeseed oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 celery sticks, sliced
- 2 carrots, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 250 ml red wine
- 500 ml beef stock
- 2 tablespoons tomato puree
- leaves from 6 springs fresh thyme (I used dry one)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon English mustard

Preheat the oven to 160 C (fan 140 C). Season the steak with salt and pepper. Heat a tablespoon of the oil in a large, heavy-bottom casserole dish (I used my favorite cast iron) and sear the meat in batches - don't boil nor steam it! It has to get nicely brown and if it "catches" a little bit don't worry! Place the meat to one side.
Add a little more oil to the casserole dish and fry the onion, celery, carrots and garlic until softened, about 10 minutes. Return the meat to the dish and add wine, stock, tomato puree, thyme, bay leaf and mustard. Stir to mix everything well together and bring to simmer, then cover with a disc of grease-proof paper and the lid and place in the preheated oven (i cooked it on top of the stove, with the lid on, cast iron is perfect for that). Cook for 3 hours or until the beef is very tender.

Dumplings recipe from John Torode's "Beef"
- 300 g suet
- 700 g self-raising flour
- 300 ml warm water
- salt

Mix the suet, flour and salt in a big bowl and add water. This will make a heave mixture. Roll the dumplings into a balls about the size of a golf balls. Take about 100 ml of gravy from the stew and put it in a saucepan with 500 ml water. Bring to the boil. Cook the dumplings in batches for 10 minutes, turning so they cook evenly and puff up nicely.


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