So, I thought I would add my small contribution to this movement by providing the recipe to a truly classic comfort dish... beef and dumplings. A recipe that has been made for generations, and with its combination of beef, carrots and fluffy dumplings in an ale-based sauce this really has to count as classic comfort food. Even more so, if it's accompanied by that classic, mashed potatoes.
Beef and DumplingsServes: 4
For the Stew:1 tbsp plain flour
500g (1 lb) braising steak, cut into large chunks
1 tbsp oil
1 small onion, roughly diced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 carrots, sliced thickly
150g (1/3 lb) large button mushrooms, quartered
300ml (1 1/4 cups) ale
For the Dumplings:100g (3 1/2 oz) self-raising flour
pinch of salt
50g (2 oz) shredded beef suet
1 tbsp parsley, chopped
90ml (6 tbsp) cold water, to bind
Method:Place the flour in a bowl and season well with salt and black pepper, salt and freshly-ground black pepper. Add the meat pieces and toss to coat.
Heat the oil in the base of a flame-proof casserole. Add the meat and fry, in batches, until nicely browned all over (remove one batch when it's done and add the next batch). Remove the final batch of meat and set aside then add the onion to the oil remaining in the pan. Fry the onion until soft and golden then add the garlic, carrots and mushrooms. Fry for a few minutes then return the meat to the casserole and pour over the ale.
Bring the mixture to a boil then cover with a lid and transfer to an oven pre-heated to 170ºC (340ºF, Gas Mark 3). Cook for about 100 minutes, or until the meat is tender.
For the dumplings, sift together the self-raising flour and salt into a bowl. Stir in the suet and parsley then add sufficient cold water to bring the ingredients together as a soft, elastic, dough.
Divide the dough into eight pieces and roll these into balls. Arrange the dumplings on top of your casserole about 20 minutes before it is due to finish cooking.
If you like soft dumplings cover the casserole with a lid. If, however, you like dumplings with a crust leave the casserole uncovered for the final 20 minutes of cooking. Note that you should never leave dumplings standing. They are always best made fresh and added to the stew as soon as they are made.
Serve hot, accompanied by mashed potatoes.