Monday, 19 March 2012

Irish Beef & Guinness Stew with Herb Dumplings and Colcannon Mash

Irish Beef & Guinness Stew with Herb Dumplings and Colcannon Mash
St Patrick's Day does my head in. Actually, that's not true, I've nothing against the Irish (I have some very funny memories of Dublin and I've been to Cork a couple of times and had a great time on both occasions) and they could certainly teach the English a thing or two about celebrating and being proud of national identity without a) worry that you're offending anyone, and b) becoming horribly boorish and arrogant and, yes, actually offending someone. No, it's the plastic fakeness of St Paddy's Day that bothers me (people calling it St Paddy's Day, being one – drunken English idiots wearing Guinness hats, being the other). So when March 17th comes around I'll usually be as far away from a night out in a city centre pub as possible (to be honest, with two young kids this is not that difficult – and not that different from any other night of the year, sadly). Instead, I'll be in the kitchen making this thing of beauty while talking in a mock Oirish accent and laughing like a leprechaun at how they say "turd" instead on "third". Sláinte. Serves 5-6.

2 tbsp plain flour
750g braising steak, cut into chunks
275g streaky bacon, diced
1 tbsp olive oil
350ml Guinness
200g onions, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
400g carrots, roughly chopped
2 bay leaves
2 beef stock cubes
2 tbsp tomato purée
125g button mushrooms
salt and pepper

For the dumplings:
140g self-raising flour
½ tsp baking powder
55g butter
½ tsp salt
1 tsp parsley, chopped
2-3 tbsp water

For the colcannon mash:
200g savoy cabbage
500g potatoes, peeled and chopped into chunks
1 tsp salt
50ml milk
50g butter
4 spring onions, finely sliced

1. Preheat oven to 190C/gas 5.
2. Toss the cubed beef in the flour mixed with salt and pepper until lightly coated.
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the bacon and cook for 5 minutes.
Remove bacon leaving fat and oil, then add the meat in batches to allow a good brown crust to form. Cook for about 3-5 minutes until browned all over.
5. Place the bacon, meat and oils into a large casserole dish (deglaze the pan with a touch of Guinness first to remove all the flavour, also adding to the dish). Add the onion, garlic, bay leaves, Guinness, stock cubes and tomato purée. Top up with hot water if necessary. Cover with lid and place in middle shelf of oven for approx 3 hours.
6. Bring a large pan of water to boil. Season with salt and add potatoes. Ten minutes after potatoes have been on, add the cabbage and cook for further 10 minutes until tender.
7. Mash well and add milk and butter that has been warmed in a small pan, adding more salt if you want. Fold in the chopped spring onions. Keep warm.
For the dumplings, rub together the butter, flour, salt and baking powder until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the parsley and add a little water at a time until the mix forms a dough. Pinch out clumps of dough and roll into balls.
Remove lid of stew and check consistency and flavor, adding mushrooms. Place dumplings on top of stew and and put back in oven uncovered for a further 30 minutes.
10. Serve with the colcannon mash

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