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Beef Stew with Dumplings

This recipe is in categories Main courses, Victorians,
About this recipe:
Difficulty: 4

Stews and soups were very popular in working class households. Cheaper cuts of meat could be padded out with vegtables and gravy to provide a substantial meal. Often good sized portions of carbohydrates like potatoes, dumplings or even Yorkshire pudding were served with the meat dish to make it go further.

This recipe is cooked on the top of the range in a saucepan. The range is heated with a coal fire. The cook would need to keep the coal fire going to keep the range hot. The range not only provided cooking heat but it was also often the only heating in the home.
Preparation takes place on the wooden table, which was also the family's table for eating. This house has no running water, so water has to be fetched from the pump in the street outside.

For pictures of the cooking process see our Beef Stew and Dumplings Picture Gallery.

With thanks to Cathy Flower-Bond (Tudor Tales) and the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum for their help with making this podcast.

Ingredients

For the Stew: 

For the Dumplings:


Making and cooking it
  1. Top, tail and peel the onions, then cut the onion in half and dice roughly into smaller pieces
  2. Add a small amount of butter to the pot, add the onions to the pot and place the pot on the range to sweat the onions
  3. Cut the steaks into smaller pieces and add to the pot
  4. Top, tail and peel the parsnip and carrots, then slice and roughly dice into smaller pieces
  5. Take the bottom and rough pieces off the top of the swede, then take off the rind and cut into small chunks
  6. Clean the dirt off the potatoes with a cloth and then peel and dice the potatoes
  7. Add the vegetables to the pot and leave to cook on the range for about one hour
  8. Add 4oz of flour and 2oz of suet to a bowl and mix with a fork
  9. Add a little water and mix until you have a stiff dough
  10. Add a little milk and mix into a sticky dough
  11. Roll four dumplings in your hands and place on a plate
  12. Allow the dumplings to rise for about 15 minutes and then place them in the oven for about 10 minutes 
  13. Add the dumplings to the pot and cook for a further 15 minutes 
  14. Serve and eat straight away