Stew and dumplings

Classic Beef Stew With Dumplings

This might be the most iconic farmhouse dish in history

Made from just about any meat (including tougher and more economic cuts like shoulder, butt, neck and chuck), as well as whatever veggies are on hand, and enjoyed in myriad forms throughout the world (what is beef vindaloo if not a sort of spicy stew?), stews are the perfect way to use what you’ve got. Adding dumplings is also an international tradition; some folks cook the biscuits right on top, some float potato dumplings in the broth, and others simply serve the stew with a starchy side of buttery noodles or spätzle. (Or, as in the Jamaican tradition, stewed oxtail served with doughy dumplin.) Here, we’re celebrating a traditional recipe but making it a little more luxe with rich marrow bones. 


1 1/2 to 2 lbs grass-fed stewing beef, cut into approx. 2-inch cubes2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp oil or other fat1 cup pearl onions, fresh or frozen ready peeled (about 15 or so)
2 cups tiny button mushrooms, cleaned, the tiniest available
3 carrots, peeled, cut into thick coins (about 2 cups)24 whole mini potatoes, washed, the smallest available (about 2 cups)
3 large ribs celery, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced1 tbsp fresh thyme, leaves picked, stems discarded or 2 tsp dry thyme
1 tsp sea salt1 tsp pepper3 bay leaves
3/4 cup honey, brown or dark ale3/4 cup beef stock
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
4 or 5 grass-fed beef marrow bones (about 2 lbs)
Dumplings (see recipe below)


Preheat oven to 375°F.

In large bowl, add beef cubes and sprinkle with cornstarch; toss to evenly coat.

In large Dutch oven over medium heat, add oil. When hot, add starch-coated beef and let brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. A pair of tongs work well for this job.

Once beef is browned, turn heat down to medium-low and transfer beef plate, then add onions and mushrooms. Fry, stirring often, until somewhat softened, about 5 minutes. 

Add carrots, potatoes, celery, garlic, thyme, and salt and pepper; stir and continue cooking until veggies start to release their water, about 5 minutes. Add beef cubes and any juices back to the pot; stir to combine. 

Add bay leaves, beer, stock and Worcestershire sauce; stir to combine. Nestle the bones down into the stew, cover, and pop into the oven. Let simmer for about 1 1/2 hours, and then remove bones and set aside to keep warm. 

At this point, the dumpling batter should be ready to spoon overtop the stew; return stew to oven, covered, and continue to cook for about 30 minutes. Remove lid and let cook for about 10 minutes more. The dumplings will brown a tiny bit and the broth will reduce. 


1 cup flour 
2 tsp baking powder 
1/2 tsp sea salt1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tbsp cold butter 
1/2 to 1 cup whole milk, kefir or buttermilk; we used 1 1/4 cup, but that may vary In large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt, pepper and thyme. 

Using pastry cutter, two butter knives or your fingers, cut or rub in cold butter until crumbly, then, with wooden spoon, stir in milk. Batter will soft and lumpy. 

These buttery dumplings will soak up the luscious marrow bone drippings; in other words, this is not a recipe for the calorie counter! 

TIP It’s been said: “Cold hands, warm heart.” Well, we can’t say for sure about that, but it is true that cold hands make the best pastry and biscuits. That’s because hot hands melt the butter and cold hands don’t; thus, the pastry is flakier. 

TIP It’s been said: “Cold hands, warm heart.” Well, we can’t say for sure about that, but it is true that cold hands make the best pastry and biscuits. That’s because hot hands melt the butter and cold hands don’t; thus, the pastry is flakier. 

TIP If you can get your hands on fresh bay leaves, you’ll be able to taste the difference. If they come in a package of more fresh leaves than you can use up, spread them out over a cookie sheet and let dry slowly in the oven at the lowest temperature setting for a couple of hours. A couple of days with the pilot light on works, too. Store in a jar.

TIP Once retrieved from the stew, and assuming there’s still some marrow in the centre of the bones, enjoy the marrow with some flaky sea salt, a long spoon and toasted crusty bread.

To view more in the Farmhouse recipe series, click the links below:

Farmhouse Cabbage Rolls
Serves 6 – makes about 15 rolls

Classic Beef Stew With Dumplings
Serves 6

Blueberry Peach Maple Upside Down Cake 
Serves 6 to 8 

Signe Langford
Signe Langford

From Hudson, Quebec, now living in Port Hope, Ontario, Signe is a restaurant chef-turned-writer who tells award-winning stories and creates delicious recipes for LCBO’s Food & Drink, Manna Pro Hearty Homestead, The Harvest Commission, and Today’s Parent; she published her first book – Happy Hens & Fresh Eggs; Keeping Chickens in the Kitchen Garden with 100 Recipes – in 2015.

By The Same Author:

Posted on Monday, October 25th, 2021

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