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What a lovely frosty day! Perfect for a traditional beef stew with some lovely dumplings. I decided to use brisket for mine – its a tough cut of beef that requires a long slow cook but the flavoursome results are really worth it.

Apparently brisket comes from the middle English ‘brusket’ which comes from the old Norse for ‘cartilage’ (aaah Wikipedia!), and as its the part of the cow which supports the entire front end (can’t help thinking of a panto horse) it’s got to be pretty tough, with a lot of connective tissue, which needs a lot of cooking to tenderise it.

But a stew has one amazing thing going for it – dumplings! I love them! I’d never made mustard ones before but I can’t eat beef without a good dollup of the french stuff and so thought it would be a great addition to the traditional dumpling. I also served this with the stew veg, honey roasted for a contrast in texture (and not because I’m a honey monster).

Beef Brisket with Mustard Dumplings – Serves 4

  • A joint of brisket (ask you butcher for enough – sorry I didn’t weigh mine!)
  • Carrots
  • Mini onions, or shallots
  • A chopped parsnip
  • 1 bayleaf
  • A glass of red wine
  • 85g shredded suet
  • 175g plain flour
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp french mustard
  • 1 tsp dried herbs
  • Water

Brown the beef all over in a frying pan, then put into a casserole dish. Add chopped carrots and parsnips and a few shallots (I’ve haven’t given amounts as you just want to pack the dish quite tightly). Add the wine and bayleaf and top up with water until almost covered. Put in a 120 degrees c oven for 3 hours.

When done, remove the veg and set aside. Cover with a drizzle of honey and oil and pop into the oven (turned up to 190). Take out the beef and carve into thick slices before returning it to the stew liquid.

To make the dumplings, mix the dry ingredients, add the mustard and enough water to make into a soft dough. With floured hands, roll into balls and pop on top of the stew. Put on a low light on the hob for around 20 mins or until the dumplings are cooked.

The stew was delicious, the beef really tender and the dumplings were full of flavour. I’m glad we roasted the veg as the slightly crunchy texture was really nice. Stews can be a bit mushy sometimes so they really made a difference.

One thing this has showed me is that I am in ‘desperate’ need of a bigger casserole. Oh well, my birthday soon…..

Also this week; dinner in Chinatown, an amazing brunch today at the lovely Backstreet Bistro in Cambridge (highly recommended) where I tried, and failed, to like bloody marys…. I don’t know what it is about them, they look so cool but taste so odd…