Today I made the Best Crockpot Beef Stew & Dumplings. The Beef Stew is made with beautiful Scotch Beef, carrots and onion and a few little additions that make all the difference to the flavour, the dumplings are light and fluffy and a great way to soak up all the glorious gravy.
Beef Stew is a dish that was regularly on our table when I was a child. My Mum would cook it on the stovetop or in a casserole dish in the oven, however, the main ingredients were pretty much the same.
Mum wasn’t a great one for dumplings, they were a favourite of my Granny, who called them ‘doughboys’ presumably a variation on ‘dough balls’. I’ve always loved savoury dumplings and adding them to the Best Crockpot Beef Stew means you don’t have to cook potatoes!
Let me share with you the 6 Secrets of how to make the Best Crockpot Beef Stew & Dumplings
Choose the right cut of beef.
I used Scotch Beef, you don’t want a lean, expensive cut because all the flavour is in the fat. Slow Cooking is ideal for cuts such as Shoulder steak, chuck steak or ‘casserole steak and the touch connective tissue which will break down as it cooks slowly.
Add some vegetables
You will also need one onion, roughly chopped and some carrots sliced into thick rounds. Carrots add sweetness to beef stew and I can’t imagine beef stew without them. if you really don’t like carrots, you can leave them out.
You can add other vegetables, like celery, leeks or parsnip. However, I feel that if you add too many strongly flavoured vegetables then you lose the flavour of the beef. After all, what we are making here is The Best Crockpot Beef Stew with Dumplings.
Have you ever found that your Slow Cooker recipes end up with a pot full of thin liquid?
The answer to this is to start by coating your beef with some seasoned flour. Use one tablespoon of plain flour seasoned with salt and pepper and put it into a plastic bag.
Add the beef and shake it thoroughly so that the flour coats all the meat. This will thicken the juices and create a delicious gravy without you having to do anything else.
Brown the beef.
Yes, I know that many Slow Cooker recipes tell you to put everything straight into the pot without browning. Browning the beef seals in all the flavours, it also creates caramelisation which is one of the keys to getting flavour into your beef stew.
The key to good caramelisation is not to put too much beef in the pan at once. If there is too much meat, then it will steam rather than brown. Brown the meat in batches covering the base of the pan in one layer.
I have a slow cooker with a steel pot which can be used on the stove, but if you don’t have one of these then brown the meat in a frying pan then add to the Crockpot.
Once the beef is browned, lift it out of the pot, turn down the heat and saute the onion and carrots. Without being sauteed, onions can be a little harsh in flavour.
Cook the onions and the carrots for about 4 or 5 minutes, stirring every now and then. The vegetables will also absorb any pan juices left by the browning meat, keeping it all in one pot makes the most of the flavours.
Three magic ingredients!
These three ingredients will take your Crockpot Beef Stew to another level. A teaspoon of Dijon mustard, a teaspoon of soft brown sugar and a tablespoon of tomato puree.
This combination will add sweetness, piquancy and richness to your beef stew and you won’t taste any of them in the finished dish.
Don’t add too much stock.
When it’s cooking your Crockpot or Slow Cooker is sealed. That means the liquid doesn’t evaporate as it would if you were cooking it in the oven or on the stove. Therefore, you don’t need to add as much stock, you only need 400 ml of beef stock for this recipe.
Making the Dumplings
There isn’t a huge secret to making dumplings. In fact, they are really rather easy to make. You just need flour, suet (I used vegetable suet) salt and pepper. flavouring and water.
For these dumplings, I added fresh herbs. I used thyme, chives and parsley all picked from my garden to flavour the dumplings, I would recommend using parsley, but otherwise, use the herbs that you like.
Divide the dough into 8 pieces and roll into balls. Wet your hands and it won’t stick to your hands.
Add the dumplings to the Best Crockpot Beef Stew and quickly put the lid back on then leave to cook for another hour.
What makes this the Best Crockpot Beef Stew & Dumplings?
The beef is tender and, as you can see, it hasn’t disintegrated. There are still nice chunks of beef, the carrots are also meltingly soft but still hold their shape. There is plenty of great-tasting gravy which is not too thick and not too thin. It is perfect to soak up with the herby dumplings.
I served the beef stew and dumplings with roasted parmesan cauliflower. You could also serve it with green vegetables like spring greens or savoy cabbage.
More Slow Cooker Stews from Farmersgirl Kitchen
And here are more delicious slow cooker stews
Slow Cooked Chicken Italian – Fab Food 4 All
7 Ingredient Slow Cooker Jerk Chicken – Recipes from a Pantry
A Sort of Spanish Stew, Slow Cooker Style – Munchies and Munchkins
PIN FOR LATER
The Best Crockpot Beef Stew & Dumplings
For the stew
- 1 large onion chopped
- 400 g carrots sliced
- 800 g diced beef
- 1 tbsp flour
- 1 -2 tbsp oil
- 400 ml beef stock
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp soft brown sugar
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
For the dumplings
- 100 g self-raising flour
- 50 g vegetable or beef suet
- pinch of salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh herbs I used parsley, thyme and chives
- 60-80 ml cold water
- Prepare the vegetables, peel and roughly chop the onion, wash the carrots no need to peel, top and tail them and cut into thick rounds.
- Put 1 tbsp plain flour into a large plastic bag and add 1/2 tsp salt and about 1/2 tsp of ground black pepper, mix well.
- Add the chunks of beef to the bag and shake it around in the bag until it is all covered.
- Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large frying pan or if you have a slow cooker with a suitable metal pot, heat the oil in the pot.
- Add enough of the floured meat to cover the base of the pan, leave for 2 minutes before moving it around and turning the chunks so they get browned on all sides.
- Once browned remove to a plate, add more oil and sear the next batch of beef until all the beef is browned.
- Turn down the heat to medium, add a little more oil and add the onion and carrots. Saute the vegetables moving them around until the onion is translucent.
- Add the beef back into the pan.
- Add 400 ml beef stock (I made mine with a beef stock cube)
- Then add the tomato paste, sugar and Dijon mustard.
- Stir and bring up to simmer, then either pour into the crockpot or, if using the crockpot base to sear, place it into the slow cooker base, put on the lid.
- Cook on LOW for 7 hours.
AFTER 7 HOURS
- Mix together the flour, seasoning and herbs in a bowl.
- Add the water and mix to a thick paste
- Roll into balls.
- Lift the lid of the crockpot, test the stew for seasoning and adjust accordingly, place the balls evenly around the stew and quickly replace the lid.
- Cook for a further 1 hour on HIGH.
I’m entering The Best Crockpot Beef Stew & Dumplings to the Slow Cooked Challenge over at Baking Queen 74. If you love slow-cooked food then you will definitely find lots of inspiration there.