Beef with Dumplings

This beef stew with mushrooms, dumplings and sour cream is a substantial and satisfying main dish. Serve it with a green vegetable or a fresh green salad and French bread.

4 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

2 lb. stewing steak, trimmed of fat and cut into

1-inch cubes

1 oz. butter

1 tablespoon vegetable oil large onion, finely diced

1 tablespoons brandy, warmed (optional) bay leaf pints homemade beef stock or stock made with

2 beef stock cubes

6 oz. small whole mushrooms, or large mushrooms, quartered

5 fl. oz. sour cream lb. breadcrumbs made from day-old white bread

4 tablespoons water

3 eggs, lightly beaten

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 ½ tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped

2 teaspoon ground mace

Preheat the oven to warm 325°F (Gas Mark 3, 170°C).

Mix the flour, salt and pepper together on a large plate. Roll the beef cubes in the flour mixture until they are lightly coated on all sides.

Heat the butter and oil in a heavy frying-pan. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, for about

5 minutes, or until it is translucent. With a slotted spoon, remove the onion and set aside on a plate.

Add the beef cubes to the pan a few at a time. Brown them well, adding more butter and oil if necessary. Remove the beef cubes as they brown and place them in a large ovenproof casserole.

If you are using the brandy, put it in a metal ladle. Set it alight and pour it, still burning, over the beef cubes in the casserole. When the brandy has stopped burning, add the onion to the casserole with a bay leaf and the hot stock.

Cover the casserole and place in the oven to cook for 2 hours.

While the meat is cooking, make the dumplings. Put the breadcrumbs into a large mixing bowl. Add the water, a little at a time, and toss lightly with a fork. The breadcrumbs should be just moistened, not soggy. Still using the fork, lightly mix in the eggs. Add the salt, the pepper, the parsley, chopped onion and mace.

With floured hands, pat and roll the mixture into walnut-sized dumplings. Add the dumplings to the casserole, with the mushrooms, cover again and cook for another 30 minutes.

Spoon the sour cream over the top just before serving.

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