Cook’s Recipe: Hunter’s Stew with Dumplings

Summer is coming to an end and here in the Northeast, that means there are only a few days left before the Harvest moon rises and the crops get one final gathering before hunkering down for the winter. But with such an abundance of fresh crops, now is the time to make the most of fresh ingredients to keep yourself warm as the nights begin to cool. This recipe is simple and best of all – it only needs a single pot!

Hunter’s Stew
Makes 4 hefty bowls

A pound of beef, cut into one inch cubes
1 onion, diced
1 large carrot, diced
2 medium potatoes, diced
1/2 cup of corn
1/2 cup of peas or green beans
1/2 cup of celery, diced
1 tablespoon of butter
1/4 cup of flour
1 quart of stock or water
Salt and pepper to taste
Garlic, basil, rosemary, bay leaves

A large pot with lid
Knife for dicing
Wooden spoon for mixing

Dice the onions and put them in the large pot with the butter over medium heat, saute them until they begin to turn caramelize. Take the beef and dust with the flour and add to the pot with the onions. Let the meat cook and don’t worry about the brown layer forming at the bottom of the pan, that will be the base for the stew.

Add the water and spices to the pot and raise the temperature to high to bring the water to a boil. Then add the diced potatoes and carrots. After a few minutes, add in the diced celery too. Keep the pot uncovered at this time and keep stirring. Once the potatoes and carrots are cooked through, take out the bay leaves and add in the remaining vegetables and reduced the heat to simmer and let it reduce. Salt and pepper to taste after all the vegetables are in there.

Don’t like some of these vegetables? Don’t worry, they can easily be omitted and different ones can be added. Extra tomatoes, parsnip and turnips could be used in place or peas or beans.

If you haven’t got access to oven or didn’t plan ahead enough to bake bread or just aren’t a baker, dumplings are an easy way to add bread to a soup dish without much extra work. Also, if your stew is looking a little thin, dumplings will help thicken it with the starch in their dough.

Makes four medium dumplings

1/2 cup of flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons of butter
1/4 cup of water or milk

Fork or pastry blender
Mixing bowl

In a small mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking powder. Cut the cold butter into pats and combine them with the dry ingredients using a fork or a pastry blender until the mixture looks evenly coarse. Add in the liquid and mix together until it forms a uniform, sticky dough.

Divide the dough into four even portions – both in size and thickness, and drop them into the simmering stew apart from each other where they will float on top. Cover the pot with the lid and DO NOT OPEN IT! Dumplings cook from the steam and treat the pot like a cross between a dutch oven and a sauna. Leave the dumplings covered for 10 to 15 minutes and serve with the stew.