Clodagh McKenna: Keep the cold at bay with this warming casserole
This week Clodagh McKenna makes a slow-cooked stew with pillowy potato dumplings
A hearty, warming, slow-cooked beef casserole filled with the flavours of smoky pancetta, earthy chestnut mushrooms and shallots plumped with the stewing juices is the best gift you can give to yourself for supper during these cold evenings.
I always make this casserole the day before I am going to serve it as the flavours mature overnight. I add Guinness, but you can swap it with red wine or beef stock. The herby potato dumplings are a must on top, as their bottom half soaks up all the delicious juices from the casserole and the top gets lovely and crispy. As a side dish, I like to serve slices of roast butternut squash tossed in olive oil, ground cumin and garlic.
By the way, the chocolate in this recipe is not a mistake. The French have been doing it for years - it adds a fabulous rich flavour and velvety texture, and you will love it. (© Evening Standard)
Beef casserole with herby potato dumplings
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour and 35 minutes
Serve with: Berry Brothers Extra Ordinary Claret
650g stewing beef chopped into chunks
8 shallots, peeled
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
200g chestnut mushrooms, quartered
100g whole chestnuts, roughly chopped
200ml beef stock
50g dark chocolate (70pc cocoa solids), grated or nibs
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the herby potato dumplings
200g plain flour
2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley
1 tbsp sage
1 tbsp fresh thyme
For the roux
1. Preheat the oven to 140C or gas mark 2.
2. Sprinkle the beef with flour and season with salt and pepper, toss to coat. Place a casserole dish over a medium heat and melt 40g of the butter. Brown the beef and transfer to a bowl.
3. Stir in the shallots and pancetta and cook for five minutes. Remove and add to the beef.
4. Add another 40g of butter, then the mushrooms, garlic and chestnuts and cook for two to three minutes. Then add all the ingredients back into the casserole dish.
5. Pour in the stout, beef stock, thyme and grated chocolate, bring to the boil and reduce the heat. Cook in the oven for an hour.
6. To make the dumplings, boil and drain the potatoes, season, add butter and herbs and mash well. Stir in the flour and combine. Mould the mixture into six dumplings.
7. Make a roux by melting 50g of butter, then stirring in 50g of flour. After the casserole has cooked for an hour, remove it from the oven, strain all the liquid from it into the roux, and slowly whisk until the sauce is thick. Then pour it back into the casserole.
8. Add the dumplings to the top so it's completely covered and cook in the oven uncovered for 35 minutes.