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It's that time of year again, after all
I’m in a melancholy mood. Perhaps its the pale gray sky and the sad trickle of rain outside my window, or the impending cold and dark winter. Mustard yellow leaves on the trees provide a little brightness, a pop of color on a faded day. I tell myself to rejoice in these little bright things, but sometimes the only balm to a weary mind is a cozy blanket, a good crossword puzzle, and a bowl of comfort food. And for me, dumpling soup is the ticket. Looking back on my newsletter this time last year, I was also feeling a bit frayed at the edges and also turned to chicken and dumpling soup as a reviving elixir. Turns out we are, indeed, creatures of habit. In this newsletter you’ll find a comforting and cozy recipe for beef stew with cheddar-scallion dumplings, as well as a recipe for a bright green and zesty sauce that is begging to be drizzled on a fluffy baked potato.
Beef Stew With Cheddar Scallion Dumplings
When October comes to a close, it’s officially dumpling soup time in my home. Maybe it’s the chill in the air or maybe it’s my S.A.D. ramping up, but it’s become a theme in my times of melancholia to turn to this childhood favorite for comfort. This hearty beef version gets the indulgent addition of cheddar and scallion slick dumplings—talk about cozy. Plus, since you add the dumplings at the very end, they help thicken the stew.
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb chuck roast, sinew and fat removed, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 cup red wine
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 small-ish carrots, peeled and diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 leek, finely chopped
1 onion, chopped
4 sages leaves, minced
4 cups beef stock
2 cups chicken stock
2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
1 recipe slick dumplings, but add 1/2 cup shredded cheddar and 2 finely sliced scallions to the flour and butter mixture in the food processor
A few dashes of Tabasco to serve
Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the beef in increments, making sure not to crowd the pot. Cook for about 4 minutes, then flip, and cook for a further 4 minutes, until beef is nicely browned on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and repeat with the remaining beef. When done, set the seared beef aside. Pour in the red wine and vinegar and scrape up the beef bits.
Turn the heat up to medium and let the liquid cook off a bit, until about half remains. Add the carrots, celery, leeks and onions and cook until tender, about 6 minutes. Add the minced sage and stir, cooking for another minute or two. Return the seared beef to the pot, then add the beef and chicken stock, and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer and cook with the lid on for about 45 minutes, until beef is tender. If it’s still a little tough, continue cooking on low heat for 10 minute increments (you can’t really overcook it!).
While the stew, well, stews, make the dumpling dough (see recipe here, but add 1/2 cup shredded cheddar and 2 chopped scallions for a ultra-cozy version). Then, pat into a disc shape, wrap it in plastic wrap and store in the fridge until about 10 minutes before you’re ready to roll it out. When it’s time to roll (ha!), place dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out to about 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into 2 x 2 inch squares with a pizza cutter. Once the beef is tender, bring the heat to a low simmer over medium heat, then add the dumplings a few at a time, stirring gently after each addition to make sure they don’t clump together. Season with more salt as needed (and a splash of Tabasco for acidity and spice) and serve.
A Ranch-y, Green Sauce
Using my basic mayo recipe as a starting point, I jazzed up this dressing with scallions, a zing of lemon juice and apple cider vinegar, and grassy parsley. It’s bright, peppy, and exactly what I want to eat on a baked potato (along with a sprinkling of feta) on this dreary day.
2 scallions, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/3 cup chopped parsley
Juice of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/3 cup sour cream
1 cup neutral oil
Combine the egg, scallions, garlic powder, parsley, lemon juice, cider vinegar, salt and pepper in a blender (or tall container if using a handheld blender). Blend the mixture together until the scallions and parsley are pretty pulverized and the mixture is fairly smooth. Slowly drizzle in the oil while continuing to blend, stopping when it’s reached the consistency of ranch dressing. Whisk in the sour cream and add more salt if needed. Serve on a salad or baked potato, or as a dipping sauce for french fries.