As the past few months of moving back home have winded down, I had a huge “itch” to cook some good food. And since I’m out of the warm sunny weather of Florida, and back home to the cold brisk Midwestern weather I wanted to make some kind of soup or stew. I think most everyone can agree that when it’s cold outside all you want to do is cuddle up with a hot cup of tea or coffee and devour some warm soup or stew. Also popular for me in this time of year is comfort food, I would say this dish is both! In my new place of residence, I saw an Irish Pub Cookbook, and with every page turned my mouth seemed to water more and more. I am a huge fan of Irish food, they know how to take the most simple ingredients and make something so good out of it! Mostly thanks to some stout or whiskey added in the recipe. In this particular recipe, Irish stout is the star of the meal. I think next time I will add something more savory to keep some of the sweetness at bay. Because your cooking with stout, the longer it cooks, the sweeter it will taste. The carrots also turn sweet, so this dish does become rich and sweet. I still thought it was pretty great, but in my opinion the fun with cooking is being able to change recipes and make them your own!
I made this recipe my own by adding some red wine in the pot, and I also decided last minute to brush the tops of the dumplings with an olive oil and garlic powder mix, place the oven on high broil and brown the tops of the dumplings to give it a crunchy outside with a soft inside. I am very pleased with the results! I think if I make this again, I will also add more vegetables.
To get started, preheat your oven to 325°. If you have a cast iron french oven, I would recommend using this. You can basically cook everything in one pot and bake it as well. If not, make sure you use a flame proof dish and one with a lid for your oven. In your french oven or skillet, heat up some EVOO on medium heat and place your onions and carrots in the pan. Cook for 5-10 minutes or until your onions are soft and translucent. While these are cooking, place your flour and salt and pepper in a plastic baggy. Take your cubed meat and place in bag, coat with the flour by shaking the flour around all over. Once the onions and carrots are cooked, set them aside on a plate with a slotted spoon to empty excess oil back in the casserole dish.
Take your beef out of the flour bag, and shake off excess flour before placing in the dish. Save the remaining flour for later use. Do this in batches and brown the beef all over. Once all of the beef is browned, add your vegetables back into the pan. Pour in the stout, wine, reserved flour, sugar, bay leaves, and thyme. Mix well, and bring to a boil. Cover and cook for 1 hour 45 minutes.
While your stew is baking, when there’s about 45 minutes left to cook start making your dumplings. You can use premade dough, like Pillsbury, but I wanted everything homemade and it was really easy! Sift your flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Stir in the shortening and parsley and add your water. You may need to add more depending on the look and feel of the dough, you want a soft consistency. Roll the dough into small balls in your hand. Once they’re all rolled, add to the top of your stew when there’s 30 minutes left and bake with the lid off. Once there’s a minute or so left, take a small bowl and mix some EVOO and garlic powder, take a brush and brush the tops of the dumplings with the oil and garlic mixture. Turn the oven on broil and make sure the oven rack is close to the top coils. Keep an eye on your dumplings while baking on broil to prevent burning, take out after a minute or so once the tops are browned.
There’s no lie that this dish is pure Irish. It’s rich flavor will fill you up and keep you warm all night! Warning: may make you full and sleepy after consumption, eat at your own risk!
What you’ll need:
For the Stew:
2 tbs EVOO
1 large onion, quartered or thinly sliced (your own preference)
8 carrots, sliced
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 3/4 lbs chuck short ribs or center cut beef shanks, cut into cubes
2 cups of Irish stout (I used Guinness)
1 cup red wine (I used cabernet)
2 tsp firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 bay leaves
1 tbs chopped fresh thyme
salt and pepper
For the Herb Dumplings:
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup shortening, cubed or in small pea sizes
2 tbs chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup water (add more for a soft consistency)
Garlic and olive oil topping:
2 tbs EVOO
1 tsp garlic powder