Slow cooking for casseroles

Arlene Thompson. INLT-11-11-10 600-CON

Arlene Thompson. INLT-11-11-10 600-CON

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As part of a Hearty Lives programme organised by Carrickfergus Borough Council, Arlene from Carrickfergus Cookery School (YMCA), demonstrated how cooking in a slow cooker can make really tasty casseroles, roasts and soups, using cheaper cuts of meat, very little electricity and best of all very little effort. Participants especially loved this beef stew with light and fluffy herb dumplings.

Beef stew with dumplings

Serves 4

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion chopped

500g braising steak, cubed

3 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

1 parsnip, peeled and roughly chopped

1 small turnip, peeled and roughly chopped

11/2 teasp dried mixed herbs

1 carton chopped tomatoes

1 beef stock cube

200g self-raising flour

100g butter, cubed and chilled or Atora suet

Parsley, washed and chopped to garnish

1. Heat the oil in a deep saucepan over a medium heat, then add the onion and fry for a few minutes until soft.

2. Add the beef and rest of the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper and add 1 teaspoon of the mixed herbs, then fry for 10 minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes, 1 litre water and the crumbled stock cube. Bring to the boil and cook for 5 hours in the slow cooker.

3. Meanwhile, place the self -raising flour in a bowl with salt, black pepper and remaining mixed herbs.

Add the chilled butter and rub in with your finger tips until the mix resembles breadcrumbs, (or simply stir in the Atora suet).

Gradually mix in small amounts of cold water until it forms a soft dough, then roll into 12 evenly sized balls. Place in the fridge, covered with cling film until ready to use.

4. Twenty minutes before serving, add the dumplings to the stew, pushing them beneath the liquid.

Cover and simmer for 20 minutes until the dumplings are puffed up and cooked through. Serve with chopped parsley sprinkled over.

COOKS TIP: Try making this stew into a hotpot by adding a layer of sliced potatoes on top of the vegetables and meat, pushing the potatoes down to coat them in stock before cooking. Brush them with melted butter for extra flavour!