Saturday, April 26, 2008

Exeter Stew - Retro Recipe Challenge #11 - Your Mother Should Know

Stephanie from Dispensing Happiness is hosting this month's Retro Recipe Challenge, an event established by Laura Rebecca. The theme for this month's event is Your Mother Should Know, and to participate, Stephanie has requested us to make a recipe from before our mothers were born.

I have a cookbook called New Standard Cookery Illustrated, by Elizabeth Craig, which was published in 1933 (for the record, well before my mother was born). This book is over a thousand pages long, and is chock-a-block full of recipes of all kinds. It includes some doozies like Mock Turtle Soup, and an Australian section which tells you how to cut up a sheep or beef carcass and how to roast a black swan! While some of these recipes and tips are now for entertainment purposes only, there are some very sensible, basic recipes that are useful today.

I didn't want to make yet another cake or batch of biscuits, as work is two days away and I already have sweets coming out of my ears (metaphorically speaking) at home. Accordingly, after about an hour of feverish flicking through New Cookery Illustrated, I selected a recipe for Exeter Stew.

Although my stew, pictured at the top of this post, is not very photogenic, it is quite tasty. The strange whitish looking globs in it are dumplings, something which I have never made before. Although I am not a fan of the dumplings, it was fun to make them, and next time someone talks about stew with dumplings, I will know exactly what they are referring to.

The recipe listed vinegar in the ingredients, which was not referred to in the method, and referred to stock in the method, but not in the ingredients! Accordingly, I have done some guess work in making this stew.
If you would like to make Exeter Stew (with my alterations), you will need:

600g stewing beef, diced
oil for frying
4 carrots, sliced
3 onions, sliced
500ml beef stock
1 tablespoon plain flour
salt and pepper to season

and for the dumplings:

6 tablespoons plain flour
75g minced suet (I used tallow/Supafry)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon mixed herbs
cold water to make a dough

Fry the beef in a well oiled frypan until brown, then remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside. Brown the onions in the meat juices in the pan. Add the flour and season to taste, then add the stock. When the stock is boiling, add the browned meat to the frypan with the sliced carrots, reduce the heat and simmer for 2 hours. Check it every now and again to ensure that it doesn't boil dry, and top up with water as necessary.

In the meantime, make the dumplings by mixing all of the ingredients except for the water together in a bowl, then add sufficient cold water to work the mixture into a smooth dough. Divide the mixture into 6-8 even pieces and roll in balls.

After the meat has simmered for two hours, add the dumplings to the stew and simmer for another half an hour. Serves 6-8.

Thanks to Stephanie for hosting this month's Retro Recipe Challenge - it was rather fun to take a step back in time.


Silvia - Magnolia Wedding Planner said...

Wow I adore this looks so delicious and at this point of the morning it would be perfect!!
thanks for the recipe!

Anonymous said...

This is great! My mother has a bunch of old women's mags from the 1940's and I've always loved checking out the recipes in there. Some are awesome -simple and delish. Others are just plain nasty - using gross ingredients and looking like slop on a plate. But my favorite thing about the retro mags is a tie b/w the mysogenistic articles (how to keep your man happy) and the cigarette ads (9 out of 10 doctors recommend them!).

This looks like a fun event. I've gotta see if I can come up with one.

Susan @ SGCC said...

There's nothing like a heary, stick-to-your-ribs beef stew! It looks like something I could dive right into, (if it wasn't 85 degrees outside)!

Gretchen Noelle said...

ooohh...a dumpling stew. Yum! I have no older cookbooks, although I wish I did!

Emily said...

What a fun event- thanks for letting me know about it.
The stew sounds tasty. Very comforting.

Cakelaw said...

Hi Sylvia, my pleasure - would love to know how you go it you try it.

Hey there Never Full, you gotta laugh at those old mags - all that stuff about how the little woman can make her man happy. Good luck with the challenge!

Hi Susan, definitely save this one til it's cold - like here! (We only reached 15 degrees Celsius today.)

Thanks Gretchen. I bought mine for a song on eBay.

Hi Emiline, "comforting" is a very accurate description - it's like something Gran might make if you went over for dinner.