Sunday, March 17, 2013

Helen Seaby's Sour Beef and Dumplings

There is a real chill in the air,  so I had a craving for one of my favorite “stick to your ribs” dishes, namely Sour Beef and Dumplings.  Imagine wonderfully flavorful, tangy, tender chunks of beef in a delicious rich gravy thickened with ginger snaps, and served with silky potato dumplings.  My history with this dish goes back to my childhood.  My Mom has made this dish for as long as I can remember.  Now this is not a recipe you can throw together in 20 minutes, so I offer it as a “culinary plan” for a special Sunday dinner where the prep starts on the prior Wednesday.

Ingredients for the Sour Beef and the Gravy:

4 lbs beef (boneless round roast or chuck), some suet left on – cut into 2” large chunks
2 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups cider vinegar
½ cup dry red wine
2 cups water
1 large onion, chopped
2 Tbs pickling spice
6-10 ginger snap cookies, crushed fine

Place the beef chunks in a large ceramic bowl.  Mix all the ingredients together and pour over the meat. Place a small plate on top to keep the meat from floating above the marinade.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and marinate the beef in the refrigerator for 3 days, turning the meat several times.  Pour the meat and marinade into a large crock pot and simmer slowly for 6 to 8 hours (or more) until the meat is tender.  Crock pots vary, so use a dinner fork to test for tenderness.  Remove the meat from the crock pot to a large bowl.  Strain the stock into a stainless or other non-reactive cook pot and bring to a boil.  Add crushed ginger snaps and simmer until the gravy reaches the desired thickness.  Adjust the flavor, as desired, by adding beef bouillon cubes, brown sugar and balsamic vinegar.  Return the meat to the gravy and hold in the crock pot to keep warm while you make the dumplings..

Potato Dumplings

1-¼ cups water
½ cup milk
3 Tbs butter
1 Tbs sugar
1 tsp salt
2 cups Betty Crocker Potato Buds
1-1/4 cups All-Purpose flour
2 eggs
1 small onion, grated (optional)
2-3 slices white bread (or use packaged pre-made seasoned croutons)

Place the above ingredients in a 3 quart cook pot and heat until the butter is melted.  Add 2 cups of Betty Crocker Potato Buds and stir until all the liquid is absorbed.  Let cool to room temperature

To the cooled potato mixture, add 2 eggs, slightly beaten, 1 small grated onion (optional) and 1-¼ cups of flour.  Knead this into a dough on a well floured board about 15 times.  Shape the dough into a roll about 2” in diameter.  Cut the roll into 12 to 16 one-inch pieces.  Cut 2-3 slices of white bread into ½” cubes.  Fry the bread cubes in butter until they start to brown.  Remove the fried bread cubes to a paper towel to drain.  Place a butter fried bread cube in the center of each dough ball and roll in your hand to a golf ball sized dumpling.  Drop the dumplings into boiling water and simmer uncovered about 15 – 20 minutes.

Cut one in half to test for doneness and cook longer if necessary.  Remove the dumplings to a platter. Place 2 – 3 dumplings on each plate with several chunks of beef.  Smother the beef and dumplings with the gravy and enjoy!

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