We had a solid week of chilly, wet weather...so blah. When that happens all I want to do is curl up in bed and read a book or watch a movie. But I'm this thing called a "mom." So yeah, curling up in bed is so not going to happen. Diapers need changing, floors need major pick-upping, counters need clearing, kids need schooling, laundry needs washing, and dinner needs making!
Ah yes...dinner. After the fifth (sixth? seventh?) dark grey, drizzly day, I was feeling the need for a little comfort food. A huge pot of Irish stew topped with some steamy dumplings was calling my name.
I'd never topped a beef stew with dumplings before, but I had seen it in a recipe recently and noted it. Chicken 'n' dumplings is delicious, and I love serving Irish soda bread with beef stews. So how about switching it up and making dumplings with the beef stew instead? The result? I'm not sure they beat out good ol' chicken 'n' dumplings, but they definitely gave them a run for their money! The one thing to note about beef stew dumplings is that they sop up that dark beefy stock, so their final color is definitely brownish, darker than the classic chicken stock dumplings.
Guinness Beef Stew with Sourdough Dill Dumplings
For the dumplings:
2 cups white whole wheat flour
1.25 cups half and half (or, 3/4 c. cream + 1/2 c. milk)
1 tsp salt
1 T sourdough starter
1 T baking powder
2 tsp dill
For the stew:
2 lbs stew beef, cubed
2 T butter
1 Guinness or other stout/dark beer
4 celery stalks
1 large onion
8 oz mushrooms (such as button, cremini, baby bella)
8 cups beef stock
Salt and pepper, to taste
preferably a brasier (a low, wide pot)
Assuming you're having stew for dinner, first thing in the morning (or 8-12 hours earlier than you plan to eat) mix together the first 5 dumpling ingredients and set aside, covered, in a warm place for 8-12 hrs until bubbly.
To prepare the stew (requires 2 hrs.):
Cook the beef in the butter over medium high heat in the brasier, stirring
occasionally, until the meat browns nicely. Pour about 1/2 the beer
into the pan and deglaze the pan. Turn the heat down very low and
simmer, covered, until the almost all the beer is gone (about 20-30
min). Add the remaining beer and repeat.
Meanwhile, dice the celery and onion. Thinly slice the mushrooms, and slice the
carrots on the diagonal in thick 1/4-1/2 inch slices. Set
the vegetables aside.
Once the beer is nearly gone, remove the lid
and raise the heat to medium high. Add the vegetables along with the beef stock and bring to a boil. Cover, turn heat to low and
simmer for 15 minutes. Salt and pepper stew to taste.
Meanwhile (while the vegetables are cooking), uncover the sourdough dumpling dough. Sift overtop the baking
powder and sprinkle the dill. Beat dough with a hand mixer (or in a Kitchen Aid mixer) to
combine. Gently drop the dough by the tablespoon into the stew. The stew should be covered in dumplings.* Cover and let simmer for
15 min more, or until dumplings are cooked through.
Spoon stew into bowls, top with dumplings, and serve immediately.
*This is why a brasier is so handy. A brasier is very low and wide, which provides a lot of surface area, allowing for plenty of dumplings to provide a generous dumpling-to-stew ratio. If you don't have a brasier, a large dutch oven will work fairly well.