Beef Stew with Dried Thyme Dumplings

I’d like to apologize in advance for the huge gap in time between my last post and this one.  This school year has been particularly challenging–larger classes, fewer resources, needier students, and the specter of more cuts to come makes for a very stressful and busy work life.  It hasn’t stopped me from cooking, but it has put a sort of damper on my ability to create new things to cook.  Needless to say, we have eaten a lot of the same thing week after week.

This weekend, my local butcher, Hirsch’s Meats, had stew meat on sale, so I decided to use a Groupon for there that I’d bought a while back since it was due to expire.   I considered making chile verde, but really wanted something comfort food-y packed with veggies too.

Enter beef stew.  Many beef stew recipes have the usual beef dredged in flour, then browned in a bit of fat, stewed in stock until tender, and then have carrots, onions and potatoes added for a stick-to-your-ribs meal.  There’s nothing wrong with that, except the onions would aggravate SB’s allergies, so I set about making a stew that omitted the onions and ramped up the flavor in other ways.

A really easy beef stew with tons of veggies, lean stew beef, and lots of flavor! This is a really hearty meal, and is low in fat.

The recipe I made is going to be dinner for us for the next 3 days (including tonight).  Hooray leftovers!    It’s a really easy recipe, and for the most part, is one you can set on the stove to cook and walk away from.  Here’s how I did it.  You will need:

  • 2 pounds lean stew meat (ideally, all the fat is trimmed from it, as mine was)
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 4 cups beef stock
  • 2 tablespoons beef base (I use Better Than Bouillon)
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons granulated garlic
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper, finely ground
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, finely ground
  • 1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 bag frozen cut green beans
  • 1 bag frozen cut carrots
  • 3 large red potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2″ cubes
  • 2 cups diced celery
  • 6 cups water

For the dumplings:

  • 2 1/2 cups Heart Smart Bisquick
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme

In a large stockpot (8 quarts is best; I have a 6 quart one and everything barely fit), heat the oil and then add the stew meat.  Cook the meat over medium-high heat until it is browned on all sides.  Once the meat is browned, add the beef stock, beef base, 3 cups of water, the Worcestershire sauce and the dried spices.  Stir the spices in and mix them in well and turn the heat down to medium.  Allow the meat to cook in the broth for 90 minutes.  Once the 90 minutes has passed, add the vegetables plus 2 more cups of water, stirring everything thoroughly so that it blends together well.  Allow this to cook for about 35-40 minutes, stirring periodically, or until the potatoes and carrots are cooked all the way through.  In a small mixing bowl, stir the 1 teaspoon of dried thyme into the dry Bisquick mix.  Whisk the milk into the seasoned Bisquick with a fork until you have a sticky batter.  Use a teaspoon to drop blobs of batter into the hot soup.  You may have to push the dumplings down to fit all of them in the pot.  I found that because my pot was small, I had to do this, plus I had to ladle some of the soup over the dumplings as they cooked.  Place the lid on the pot so that the dumplings steam cook, being careful to watch so that the pot does not boil over.  The dumplings will help thicken the stew, so adding a flour slurry (as is sometimes found in many stews) is unnecessary.

Serve once the dumplings are cooked through, about 10-15 minutes.  This recipe will make quite a lot of really tasty stew–I dished it up into bowls that held about 2 cups’ worth per serving.  We had seconds, and have plenty for the next two days’ worth of dinner.

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