What better on a chilly day than a plate of steaming hot beef stew with light, fluffy dumplings? My super-hero father decided to make goulash for us recently and when the first recipe he tried didn’t work out (go figure – it asked for a quarter pound of paprika), down the drain it went (just the base, thank goodness), and back to the drawing board went dad. The recipe we did end up with dad pulled from one of his thick recipe binders, with his own notes from a Wolfgang Puck Food Network show. The dumpling recipe comes from my friend Elizabeth who brought it back with her from a summer in Prague. The combination is a knock-out. Rich, flavorful, spicy beef stew balanced with light dumplings.
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 4 cups onions, thinly sliced
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 Tbsp caraway seeds, toasted and ground
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika
- 1 teaspoon spicy Hungarian paprika
- 2 Tbsp minced fresh marjoram leaves
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 Tbsp tomato paste
- 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 2 1/2 pounds chuck roast, cut into 2-inch cubes (remove excess fat)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups cake flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup milk
- 2 Tbsp melted butter
1 In a large covered sauté pan, heat the olive oil and sauté the onions and sugar until caramelized. Add the garlic and caraway seed. Cook another minute.
2 Add the sweet and spicy paprika, marjoram, thyme and bay leaf. Sauté another minute, until fragrant.
3 Add the tomato paste. Deglaze with the vinegar and the stock and add the pieces of beef, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Cover and cook until very tender, about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
4 To prepare the dumplings, sift together the cake flour, baking powder and salt. Combine with the milk and melted butter, mixing lightly. After the stew has cooked until tender in step 3, drop the dumpling batter by (heaping) teaspoonfuls into the simmering stew. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Once you have covered the pan, do not uncover while the dumplings are cooking! In order for them to be light and fluffy, they must steam. If you uncover the pan, the steam will escape and the dumplings will boil instead. After 15 minutes, test the dumplings with a toothpick. If the toothpick comes out clean, the dumplings are done.