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homemade beef stew and cheesy herb dumplings: community cooks with central england co op.

do you have one of those homemade recipes which evokes the best of memories? my mum's beef stew and dumplings was my favourite meal growing up. i always knew we'd be having it for tea when she was chopping up veggies as i was getting ready for school. then i'd have to turn the oven on when i got in just after 3 so it was ready in time for dinner.

central england coop have launched a community cooks competition to encourage people to #getcooking and share their favourite home cooked meals. whether it be your grandma's strawberry jam tarts, dad's ultimate lasagne or the first meal you impressed your uni friends with without burning your halls down. 

so of course it made sense for me to have a go at my mum's stew. i always remember it having a lot of delicious beef and potatoes, as well as pearl barley which was fun to search for at the end. i made it especially rich with the secret ingredient of lea and perrin's too! my mum always made it with regular dumplings although since this is a midlands recipe challenge i thought i'd throw in some red leicester cheese too.

shopping list. 
(serves four, generously)

for the beef stew
♥ one onion, chopped
♥ two garlic gloves, chopped
♥ 700g good quality cubed beef
♥ 25g plain flour
♥ 7ooml vegetable stock, made with two stock cubes
♥ 200g potatoes, chopped
♥ one carrot, peeled and chopped
♥ one leek, sliced
♥ two celery, sliced
♥ 100g pearl barley
♥ 1 tsp tarragon
♥ 3 dried bay leaves
♥ salt and pepper to taste
♥ splash of lea & perrins

for the cheese & herb dumplings
♥ 200g plain flour
♥ 100g butter
♥ 1 tsp baking powder
♥ a pinch of salt
♥ 30g red leicester, grated
♥ 1 tbsp mixed herbs, preferably including sage and thyme

preheat your oven to 180 degrees c.

step one. prepare all your vegetables and stock. set aside ready.

step two. cook your onion and garlic on a low heat in a large saucepan until softened.

step three. add in the beef and sear. then toss through the flour.

step four. lastly add in the remaining ingredients and stock.

step five. i then transferred the stew into oven proof dishes; i have two cute small pots and a larger one that would make two generous portions. so simply pick your favourite dish and pour in - add more hot water to make sure it is covered.

step six. cook for one hour to an hour and a half. take out now and again to push the vegetables and pearl barley to the bottom. some parts will go a bit crispy on top but i used to love when you found a crispy bit of beef in my stew.

step seven. whilst the stew cooks, prepare your dumplings. crumble the dry ingredients together until they resembles breadcrumbs, then add water until it forms a dough.

step eight. 25-30 minutes before your stew is ready, place the dumpling dough on top of the stew. this dough should make roughly 12 small balls, which will grow when cooked. 

step nine. continue to bake for a further 25-30 minutes, or until the dumplings look a lovely golden colour. 

step ten. serve to four hungry bellies!

what is your favourite home cooked recipe? perhaps you could enter it into the co op community cooks competition? look out for other entries on twitter with the hashtag #getcooking!

note: this is an entry into the community cooks competition. co op kindly reimbursed me for the ingredients used in this post.


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