{recipe} Hearty Beef Shank Stew with Parmesan Dumplings

I pinned a recipe for beef stew with parmesan dumplings on Pinterest about a year ago, and every time I see the photo, it has a Pavlovian effect on me – I start to salivate. I am not sure why it took me so long to actually try it, but I finally did and was not disappointed.

beef stewe

Normally I would just link to the recipe, but it’s from a South African blog so the measurements are in milliliters and grams so there was a fair amount of conversion and adjustment involved, and I ended up making some additional changes to the recipe, so in fact the recipe turned out to be more of an inspiration than anything else. Ergo, I have written up my version here. The original recipe calls for beef shin, a term that confused the guy at the meat, so I made it with beef shanks. It turns out that shin and shank are actually the same cut by a different name so I guess that was a good call! If you are in the UK or a commonwealth country you might find it easier to follow the original recipe from Simply Delicious. A lot of her recipes look great and she is a wonderful photographer, so I think I will be finding more inspiration from that site in the future!

While my other half loved the stew part, to me the dumplings are the real coup in this recipe. Imagine a buttery biscuit that’s steamed right in the stew – making it tender, soft, and just a little bit crumbly. Now add a bunch of parmesan cheese to the dough. And of course where the original recipe called for milk, I couldn’t resist using heavy cream instead. Heaven. I can’t wait to put these dumplings on other kinds of soups – I’m already thinking tomato, minestrone, squash, and about a million other kinds.

RECIPE: Hearty Beef Shank Stew with Parmesan Dumplings
serves 4-6

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 Tblsp olive oil
  • 3 lbs beef shank, cut in 1 inch slices (they should look like this)
  • 1 stalk of celery, trimmed, strings removed, and diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 3 cups chicken or beef broth
  • 1/2 small (12 oz) can of tomato paste
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (13.5 oz size)
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 Tblsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup butter, cold and cut in cubes
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup high quality parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 large pinches salt
  • 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup heavy cream

METHOD:

  • Put oil in a large, heavy pot (ideally one that is wide and reasonably shallow instead of deep) and heat over medium-high heat.
  • Season shanks with salt and pepper on both sides. Lay in a single layer in pot and brown meat on both sides. Remove meat to a plate and set aside.
  • Add celery, onion, and carrots. Cook about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions are translucent and mixture is fragrant.
  • Add garlic, bay leaf, and thyme and cook about 30 seconds, stirring, until garlic is fragrant but not brown.
  • Add wine, broth, tomato paste, diced tomatoes, sugar, and soy sauce and stir. Bring to a boil.
  • Reduce to a simmer and add meat, submerging in the liquid. Cover and simmer 2-3 hours, until meat comes off the bone easily and can be gently broken into smaller chunks with a spoon or spatula.
  • Remove lid and turn off heat. Remove bones with tongs and gently break up meat into chunks.
  • Let the stew settle for a few minutes so the fat can rise to the top. Use a spoon or ladle to skim as much of the grease off the top as possible and discard.
  • While stew is settling, prepare the dumpling dough: put butter, flour, baking powder, cheese, and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times to make small crumbs. Add 1/2 cup cream and pulse to combine. Dough should remain crumbly and be a little bit sticky, but easily press together when formed with your hands. Add more cream bit by bit if necessary to achieve the right texture.
  • Once stew has been skimmed, return to high heat and bring back to a boil. Form golf ball-sized spheres with the dough. Place on top of boiling stew and turn heat to a simmer. Cover and cook to steam the dumplings for 12-15 minutes, until inside is soft and tender but cooked through. (You will probably need to sacrifice a dumpling to make sure it’s cooked through.) Important: make sure the stew is simmering when the dumplings are cooking, or they may break apart.
  • Serve immediately in shallow bowls.
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