Beef and Mushroom Stew with Dumplings

Beef and Mushroom Stew with Dumplings

I do like my slow cooker, but I certainly could use it more often, if I had the time! My most recent recipe was a beef and mushroom stew with dumplings.

To make this I took some shin of beef, which I cubed and then coated in seasoned flour. This was then browned in a pan before placing it in the slow cooker. The flour not only helps with the browning process but also helps thicken the stew during the stewing process. In the pan I used to brown the meat, I then added some carrots, leeks and onions. You could at this stage adding some other root vegetables such as parsnips or swede. These were cooked in the pan for a short time before also adding to the slow cooker. I then added some water from the kettle to the pan to deglaze it, before adding it to the slow cooker as well. I then topped up the slow cooker with water to not quite cover the ingredients.

I then added a Knorr Rich Beef Stock Pot. I quite like these stock pots, not just for the flavouring, but how they thicken the stew as well. One of the challenges with a slow cooker meal is that the sauce doesn’t thicken in the same way that cooking in a oven does.

The stew was then cooked in the slow cooker on the medium setting for four hours. My slow cooker has two settings, low for eight hours or medium for four hours. Though you can change the time manually.

After four hours the stew was allowed to cool and was then left overnight. I do like leaving stews or casseroles to “stew” overnight as it seems to improve the flavour.

The next day I put the stew in the “normal” oven.

I then cooked some bacon lardons in a pan and once nearly cooked added a range of mushrooms. I used chestnut mushrooms, some chanterelles that I had alongside a range of woodland mushrooms. These were cooked lightly before the bacon and mushrooms were added to the stew and stirred in.

I have been using the woodland mushrooms from Morrisons for a while now. Now I know they are not from woodlands, but are farmed, but they make a nice difference to dishes that usually use common mushrooms. The woodland mushrooms include oyster, and some others that I haven’t identified! According to the Morrisons website the pack contains three of the following: oyster, shiitake, eryngi, maitake, shiro shimeji, enoki, and buna shimeji.

Woodland mushrooms

Tesco use to sell wild mushrooms in my local branch, however they haven’t for a while, but you may be luckier at your own branch.

Wild mushrooms

The chanterelles on the other hand were found amongst the range of exotic mushrooms mini packs that they do stock in my local Tesco. This range includes varieties such as oyster, shiitake amongst others.

Exotic mushrooms

On top of the stew I added some dumplings and the whole thing was cooked for about 25-30 minutes. The idea was that the dumplings would have a nice crust and the stew would be bubbling underneath.

Overall the stew was lovely, full of deep flavours. The beef was tender and melt in the mouth, whilst the vegetables still had texture. The bacon and mushrooms added a new dimension and by adding them later in the cooking stage they weren’t lost within the stew.

Yes I will be cooking this again.

Time for some dumplings

Time for some dumplings

I did think that I might miss the Temple Quay market this week because of the rain, however it stopped so off I went.

There were fewer stalls this week, and fewer regulars, but even so there was a great choice of food. I thought the rain might have put people off, but the queues were already really long. The queue for the Thai stall was already across the square!

I did start queing at the Scoff and Relish stall as the salad and grilled chicken sounded great and looked fantastic too, being chargrilled on they tiny portable barbecues. I also liked the idea of the accompaning scoff balls, savoury scones. Alas they were struggling with the demand and the queue wasn’t moving and the food wasn’t quite ready. Maybe next time…

In the end I went with Ah Ma’s Dumplings. There was a slow moving queue here too. The stall has these huge towers of bamboo steamers laden with freshly steamed dumplings containing a choice of fillings. There was no tiger prawn, scallop and leek (probably sold out) today, so the choice was pork and ginger, beef and spinach, chicken and coriander or vegetarian.

ah-mas-dumplings

I went with the veggie shitake and cashew pan fried dumplings along with the pork belly with hoisin bao.

I was impressed and tempted with the dumpling pots complete with vegetables, noodles and broth, likewise the sides of Asian salads sounded very interesting. That day they had carrot & courgette ribbons with a tahini, honey, lemon dressing; the other choice was sweet chilli pickled cucumber with toasted black sesame seeds.

The dumplings were really impressive, beautiful steamed dough that because of the pan frying. Inside was a filling that was deep, tasty and even a little meaty, but they were vegetarian (well ‘ish they are pan fried in the same pan as the pork and chicken ones, so if you are vegetarian you might want to have them steamed instead).

The bao was delicious, the slow roasted pork belly was both sour and sweet, full of interesting deep flavours and very tender. The steamed dough made is substantive. I have seen neater and tidier bao buns before, but the flavour of the filling made up for this.

Ah Ma has a growing reputation, having been mentioned as one of the top sixteen street food stalls in the UK in both the Metro and Olive magazine. In my mind that is a well deserved reputation, delicious food, beautifully made and presented and lots of interesting choices of flavours and textures. I hope to visit them again.

Duck Gyoza

You don’t really have starters at Wagamama there are side dishes that arrive when they are ready. Out with friends we ordered a few alongside our main dishes.

Though generally I enjoy most items I have eaten at Wagamama I was less impressed with the deep-fried duck dumplings served with a spicy cherry hoi sin sauce.

Not that they were bad, more for me the dumplings in themselves lacked flavour and the hoi sin sauce was very overpowering. The texture was good and they were crunchy.

Beef and Ale Casserole

Sainsburys have recently released a new range, called .Easy To Cook Autumn Meals. They are currently 25% off.

We have tried a few and as you might expect some are better than others.

We tried the Beef & Ale Casserole and were, well, slightly disappointed.

I was pleased initially to see that they used shin for the cut of beef rather than the traditional stewing beef I would expect. The onions and mushrooms that came looked a little disappointing and tired. Rather than provide a sauce, these meals seem to be using a new paste technique to which you add water.

I followed the instructions almost to the letter, just adding some carrots and topping with some dumplings. Though the recipe didn’t call for it, I did brown the shin before placing it in a casserole dish and topping with the sauce made form boiling water and the included sauce paste. At this stage I did add the extra carrots. This was cooked for eighty minutes before adding the onions and mushrooms. This was then cooked for a further forty minutes before I added the dumplings which were cooked for a further twenty minutes.

The beef was very tender, however the whole dish lacked flavour. You certainly couldn’t taste the ale. Overall what I hoped would be a simple dish to cook, was to be honest a disappointment. So much so that if I was going to cook something like this again, I would cook it from scratch using fresh ingredients. The dumplings were great, but then I made those myself!

It cost £3.74, but will be £4.99 after the offer period has ended. I don’t think this is value for money and would rather spend more on some nice beef and a bottle of ale than buy the pack again.