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Close-up of a pot of beef and dumpling stew.
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5 from 3 votes

Slow-cooked Beef Stew and Dumplings (Dutch Oven)

Slow-cooked beef stew and dumplings is pure comfort on a cold winters night. Easy to prepare and slow-cooked in a Dutch oven until the meat is tender, it's a crowd-pleasing meal to serve up. This version has some special ingredients to make it a little more exciting than most stews.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time3 hrs 45 mins
Total Time4 hrs 15 mins
Course: Main Course, Supper
Cuisine: British, World
Servings: 4
Calories: 907kcal

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoon Olive oil
  • 600 g Stewing steak (chuck steak)
  • 1 Large white onion
  • 2 Celery stalks
  • 2 Rashers streaky bacon
  • 1 Garlic clove
  • 1 ½ tablespoon Plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 60 ml Red wine
  • 12 Baby onions/ shallots
  • 4 Allspice berries
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon Ground black pepper
  • 60 g Pickled walnuts optional
  • 500 ml Beef stock
  • 200 g Chestnut mushrooms
  • 400 g Carrots
  • 250 g Baby potatoes
  • 250g Jerusalem artichokes
  • 10 g Fresh thyme

For the Stilton Dumplings

  • 120 g Plain (all-purpose) flour
  • ½ teaspoon Baking powder
  • 50 g Beef suet
  • 30 g Blue Stilton cheese (or other strong blue cheese) - optional
  • 4-5 tablespoons Whole (full-fat) milk
  • ¼ teaspoon Salt

Instructions

Make the hearty Beef Stew

  • Preheat oven to 160C/ 320F/ GM 2 ½
  • Chop the beef into 1-1.5 inch cubes if necessary, and season
  • Heat a large casserole pan and add ½ the oil then fry ½ of the beef, turning frequently until the meat is browned all over. Remove from the pan and fry the remaining meat in the same way. Set all meat aside
  • Finely dice the large onion and celery sticks and add to the pan along with the remaining oil. Fry for 2-3 minutes. Crush the garlic clove and chop the bacon then add to the pan and continue to cook until the vegetables are soft
  • Split the allspice berries open using a pestle and mortar or the end of a rolling pin. Sprinkle into the pan with the bay leaves and black pepper
  • Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minutes, then deglaze the pan with the red wine. Allow the liquid to evaporate
  • Peel the baby onions and wipe the chestnut mushrooms. If the mushrooms are large chop in half. Place in the pan and then return the browned meat to the pan. Dice the pickled walnuts and scatter into the pan with a few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • Pour the stock over everything, give a good stir, cover and cook for 2½ hours, stirring midway through
  • Just before the cooking time is up, peel and chop the carrots and Jerusalem artichoke into thick pieces. Add to the pan with the potatoes and cook for a further 45 minutes
  • Make the dumplings when there is 10 minutes cooking time left: Put the flour, baking powder, salt and suet into a small mixing bowl. Strip approx 1 tablespoon thyme leaves from their stems and crumble the cheese. Add both to the bowl and stir then add just enough milk to form a soft but not sticky dough. Using floured handles roll into 8 equal-sized balls
  • Top the stew with the dumplings, cover and cook for a further 20-30 minutes – removing the lid for the last 10 minutes for a crisper finish to the dumplings if preferred
  • Check and adjust seasoning as necessary, then serve straight away with a sprig of thyme to garnish

Video

Notes

  • Pick your meat wisely. A slow-cooked stew needs beef with some fat and connective tissue, so avoid the pricier lean cuts and plump for the tougher cuts of meat
  • Browning the meat is the first step in building up a rich & deep flavour profile in your stew. Heat the pan to very hot before adding the beef and turn the meat frequently to allow it to brown on all sides
  • Always brown your meat quickly and in small batches. Don't be tempted to add all the meat in one go. Overcrowding the pan with meat means that the heat is reduced and more moisture is released from the meat than can be evaporated quickly. The result is a layer of steam which prevents browning
  • Don't rush it. Recipes vary, but stews can take between 3-4 hours to cook on a low heat. It's this slow cooking that helps tenderise the meat
  • Add a little more stock to the pan if necessary. Stews need a rich, thick gravy, so don't be afraid to top up if too much liquid evaporates during cooking
  • Add the vegetables partway through the cooking process to avoid them turning mushy. Chop root vegetables chunky and go for 1- 1 ½ hours in the oven. Smaller vegetables such as peas will only need a few minutes at the end of the cooking time
  • At the point of serving, add a pop of colour using fresh herbs - it livens up the presentation no end
 
How to Cook in a Slow Cooker
  1. First of all brown the beef on a frying pan to seal it and preheat the slow cooker to high
  2. Put the diced onion, diced celery, garlic, bacon, allspice, bay leaf, black pepper and flour into the bowl of your slow cooker. Give everything a good stir. Add ½ the beef stock, red wine and beef then let cook for 2 ½ hours (or on low for 3 ½ hours)
  3. Add the potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, Jerusalem artichokes and pickled walnuts and continue to cook for a further 2 ½ hours (or 3 ½ hours on low) or until the beef and potatoes are tender. (These ingredients can be added at the start but they will be much softer and mushier as a result). Top up with more beef stock as necessary
  4. After 5hrs (7 hours on low) of cooking, make the dumplings. Put the flour, baking powder, salt and suet into a small mixing bowl. Strip approx 1 tablespoon thyme leaves from their stems and crumble the cheese. Add both to the bowl and stir then add just enough milk to form a soft but not sticky dough. Using floured handles roll into 8 equal-sized balls
  5. Place the dumplings on top of the stew then cook, with the lid on for 1hr more on high. Check the seasoning and serve.
Storing and Freezing Instructions
Any leftovers can be stored in the fridge and reheated gently within a few days, although dumplings are always best eaten fresh.
I personally do not recommend freezing this stew since the texture of the dumplings and the potatoes changes significantly afterwards and not in a good way.
If you do decide to freeze and eat at a later date, perhaps pick out the potatoes and dumplings beforehand. Defrost fully at room temperature and then reheat gently. Serve alongside some freshly boiled potatoes, or better still, some creamy mashed potato. Fresh dumplings can also be made and cooked as before.

Nutrition

Calories: 907kcal | Carbohydrates: 69g | Protein: 51g | Fat: 49g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 9g | Monounsaturated Fat: 21g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 126mg | Sodium: 632mg | Potassium: 2183mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 16945IU | Vitamin C: 31mg | Calcium: 224mg | Iron: 9mg