Well, it may officially be spring but warming winter food is back on the menu here at The Madhouse at the moment ! Time to get the slow cooker out and try out another Schwartz Recipe Inspirations kit, this time for Beef & Beer Stew with Herb Dumplings. I told you all about the concept of the kits here (and if you click on the Schwartz label at the bottom of this post, you'll see my review of some of the other kits too). You basically get six little sealed bubbles of herbs and spices, perfectly measured out for use in the recipe supplied on the back of the pack. This pack contained Garlic Granules, Paprika, Marjoram, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme. As I've mentioned before, I love the freshness of the herbs (they smell much more fragrant and packed with flavour than the half opened pots that have been hanging around on the spice rack for far too long) and the convenience of having them already measured out, but I do still find the little bubbles incredibly fiddly and annoying to open.
So, on to the recipe. First, I threw some chopped carrots and onions in the slow cooker and sprinkled over the garlic granules.
I can't help myself - I immediately modified the recipe and added some mushrooms to the mix.
After browning it on all sides, I put the chunks of beef in the pot and added the quick squirt of tomato puree that the recipe calls for (trying out the Just Add sun-dried tomato puree that I told you about here).
Time to add the beer, beef stock and contents of three bubbles - paprika, marjoram and sage. Pop the lid on and leave the slow cooker to work its magic all afternoon.
Now I almost left out the dumplings part of the recipe. Not only have I never eaten dumplings in my life and have no idea what they're supposed to taste like or how to make them, I also had no suet or anything resembling it in the house. Off to internet for an alternative dumplings recipe and I found one using flour, butter and milk, to which I added the two final bubbles of herbs, rosemary and thyme.
Well, they look the business (I think !).
I pushed all the meat over to one side and plopped the dumplings into the hot liquid. This photo just looks like a soggy mess but I was impressed to see that they puffed up immediately and soaked up all that lovely sauce.
Well, the dumplings were a bit bland but they're definitely something I'd like to experiment with. I wonder if you could put balls of stuffing in a stew to make really herby dumplings ? The flour that comes off the dumplings does give a wonderfully thick sauce and soaks up a lot of the excess liquid, which is sometimes a problem with slow cooked stews.
star rating : 4.5/5
RRP : £1.99
for more information : http://www.schwartz.co.uk/Products/Herbs-and-Spices/Recipe-Inspirations-Kits/Beef-Beer-Stew-with-Herb-Dumplings.aspx
Disclosure : I received a Recipe Inspirations pack containing the herb/spice packs as well as some bits and bobs for the kitchen (that I told you about here).
Other reviews you may be interested in :