Take a moment to remember that the reason you, me and everyone around us are here now is because of our collective history. Each of our personal journeys are unbelievably short when you really think about it. We are but a flash of light in the universal timeline and what we do with this time is not only important for us now but for the future too.
I saw this comic strip from The Oatmeal (a personal favourite!) posted on a friend's Facebook page yesterday and it says it all. It's going to be okay.
With the crisp fall temperatures reminding us that winter is nearing it seems to be the right time to get back in to comfort food season. Although I usually follow a plant-based diet, when my body tells me that it's time for some animal protein I usually go for beef or wild game whenever possible at this time of year. This time around my taste buds were influenced by the Sorted Food team that I've been following for a few years on their YouTube channel. This funny foursome of British dudes post great instructional videos along showcasing their amazing recipes and every once in a while one particularly hits a spot of inspiration and entices me to find the listed ingredients as soon as possible to make my own version of the dish.
Here is the end result of my experimental approach in to making my first beef stew with dumplings:
I was really impressed with the flavour of this dish and will very likely make it again sometime this winter. The recipe listed below includes the few changes I made from the original posted as the team at Sorted seemed to miss a few important details and descriptions in their version:
For the initial roasting:
2 carrots, chopped in to bite-sized pieces
1 leek, halved and sliced
1 onion, quartered and sliced
2 sticks of celery, roughly chopped in to bite-sized rounds
4 cloves of garlic, crushed but left whole
2 sprigs of rosemary
2 tbsp olive oil
4 bone-in beef shanks (from Silver Sage Beef), with meat removed and cubed
Sprinkling of salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 220°C/425°F
- Place all the chopped vegetables and rosemary sprigs in a casserole style dish, drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle some salt and pepper over top and toss around to lightly covered everything. Top the vegetables with the meatless shank bones, add a bit more oil and salt and pepper and oil.
- Roast the whole lot for 30 minutes.
While the veggies & shank bones are roasting it's time for the searing!
50 ml Olive oil
~1 kg beef shank meat from bones, diced in to bite-sized pieces
- Warm the oil in a large pan and when it's shimmery add enough of the diced beef pieces to leave a bit of a space between them. This will need to be done in batches.
- Once all the sides of the diced pieces have some good seared sides remove to a bowl, set aside, and add more of the raw pieces to the pan for searing.
- Continue until all the meat is seared nicely and set aside.
- Prepare rest of the ingredients to be ready for when step 1 is completed.
500 ml beef stock (water will do too)
250 ml or so of tasty beer (or red wine)
2 tablespoons tomato puree
- Once the 30 minutes of initial roasting is complete, pull pan from the oven and lower the temperature to 160°C/320°F
- Add the stock, beer (or wine), and tomato puree
- Stir all together gently to combine and coat all the ingredients.
- Return to the oven, covered with aluminum foil or a fitted lid, for 2 hours.
As it turns out I didn't take any photos of the this last step but it's pretty easy.
- Combine the dumpling ingredients in a food processor until it has a doughy consistency.
- Divide and roll in to eight small rounds.
- Pull pan from oven, remove the shank bones and scrape any remaining marrow in to the stew. Also, remove the rosemary sprigs at this time.
- Gently stir the stew to redistribute all the ingredients.
- Place the dumpling rounds on top of the stew leaving room between them to expand.
- Return the pan to the oven, this time uncovered, for 30 more minutes.
Once the final roasting time is complete, remove the pan from the oven and serve in bowls with a dumpling per serving. It's best enjoyed with more beer (or wine) and a movie while wrapped in a cozy blanket for full comfort food effect.