Hearty and warming beef casserole with green pesto dumplings
For the stew:
800g stewing beef
3 cloves garlic minced
1 medium onion sliced finely
3 sticks of celery sliced into half-moon shapes
4 carrots cut into rounds
1 tsp dried basil
½ tsp dried thyme
600ml beef stock
3 tbsp flour
1 dried bay leaf
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp Rapeseed oil
Salt and pepper to taste
For the dumplings:
300g self-raising flour
50g butter (in cubes)
1 tub of green pesto (140g)
Pinch of salt
Chopped fresh parsley/chives or basil
Pre-heat the oven to 160°c. Add the 2tbsp of flour to a bowl (reserve 1tbsp for thickening the beef stock), then add in the beef pieces and toss them around the bowl to ensure they are completely coated in flour.
Heat a heavy bottomed casserole dish or cast-iron pot, add 1tbsp of oil, add in the beef and cook for 5 minutes, or until it is browned then remove and set aside on a plate.
Return the casserole dish to the heat, add 1tbsp of oil, then cook the onion, celery and carrots for 5 minutes until they have softened a little, add in the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Return the browned beef to the casserole dish, together with the stock, dried herbs, soy sauce, bay leaf and the last tbsp of flour.
Stir all the ingredients together, put a lid on your casserole dish and cook for 2 hours (or until the beef has softened) in the pre-heated oven. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Turn the oven up to 190°c. Sift the flour into a large bowl. Rub the butter into the flour until it is evenly distributed, then add in the salt. Make a well in the centre of the flour and add in some of the milk and mix. Keep adding in the milk till the dough comes together. Divide the dough into 12 even pieces and, using the palm of your hand, flatten them each into disc shapes of around 10cms in diameter and continue to shape them by pulling up the sides until each resembles a small cup shape.
Spoon 1-1 1/2 tsps of green pesto into the centre, ensuring you don’t get it on the edges as they won’t seal otherwise. Pinch the edges together making sure they are sealed. Apply a small bit of pressure to shape them back into rounds. Repeat until all the balls are formed and then turn them till the smooth side is up and place them on top of your casserole. Don’t worry they will spread as they cook to cover the top!
Whisk the egg and brush it over the top of the dumplings. Return the casserole dish to the oven and cook on the middle shelf for 25 minutes until the dumplings have risen and browned and the juices are bubbling around the edges.
Allow to cool for a few minutes, sprinkle with the chopped herbs and serve.