Until last year, I had never made a pot of truly Irish stew - made with lamb and topped with dumplings. Not only was it perfectly simple to put together, it was satisfying to have the house warmed with the aroma of something delicious simmering when there was a foot of snow outside, and it tasted divine. Red wine is usually my beef stew braising liquid of choice, but a good Irish stout - something like Guinness - is pretty fantastic, as were the savoury dumplings that simmered on top, soaking up all that gravy flavour.
The dumplings are simple – they’re just cream biscuits, scooped (I used a little ice cream scoop with a lever, which was oh-so-satisfying) onto the top of the simmering stock. They will steam through with the lid on, but if you want them golden, take the lid off and run it under the broiler for a few minutes. It’s amazing what a golden crust does for the appeal of a biscuit.
Irish Stew with Stout & Parsley Dumplings
canola or olive oil, for cooking
2-3 lb lamb or beef stewing meat, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 bottle or can stout beer (or 2 cups beef stock)
2-3 cups beef stock
4 thin-skinned potatoes, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1/2-1 cup frozen peas
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 handful fresh parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
In a large, heavy pot, brown the meat in a drizzle of oil in batches (without crowding) over medium-high heat. Transfer to a bowl and cook the onions in the same pot. Pour in the stout or stock and bring to a simmer, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Return the meat to the pot, cover and put into a 300F oven for 2 1/2-3 hours.
Remove from the oven and add the stock along with the potatoes and carrots, cover and cook on medium-high on the stovetop for another 20-30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the dumpling dough: in a medium bowl, stir together the flour, parsley, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the cream and stir just until the dough comes together. Drop the biscuit batter by the large spoonful on top of the simmering stew, cover and cook for 15 minutes, until the biscuits are cooked through. If you like, put the pot under the broiler for a few minutes to allow them to brown. Serves 6.