Friday, February 8, 2013

Guinness Beef Stew with Sourdough Dill Dumplings

We had a solid week of chilly, wet 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)
4 carrots
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.


  1. I stumbled onto your Guinness Beef Stew on Pinterest and I think your recipe looks great! I am stocking up on new Comfort Food recipes for the upcoming cooler months----can't wait to try it! the sourdough starter something that has to be made----or can it be purchased?

    1. Sourdough starter can be purchased from Cultures for Health ( or if you know anyone who has a sourdough starter they can easily pass some on to you. Thanks for stopping by, hope you enjoy the recipe!