Burgundy Beef Stew with(out) Cornmeal-Thyme Dumplings

As frigid weather descended upon us here in the New Orleans tropics last week, we decided comfort food might help us muscle through it. Vann came up with a great recipe for Burgundy Beef Stew, found in the Living section of our local newspaper, that we then adapted a bit to make our own. Delicious, warming-to-the-bone and somewhat healthy, too!

This is the original recipe. We didn’t bother with the dumplings, but if you do please let us know how they turned out. Instead, we opted for a baguette with garlic butter. Any changes made to the original recipe are in parentheses.

Burgundy Beef Stew with Cornmeal-Thyme Dumplings
from Judy Walker of The Times-Picayune, dated 1/7/10
Makes 4 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound round steak, trimmed, cut in 1-inch cubes
2 cloves garlic, minced (Always add more garlic than the recipe says! I usually double the amount called for. No such thing as too much garlic.)
4 cups low-sodium beef broth (add salt on our own terms)
1 cup dry red wine (we had 3/4 cup Shiraz and 1/4 cup Pinot Noir laying around, so in it went)
2 tablespoons tomato paste (no, we about doubled the amount of tomato paste – much better!)
2-1⁄4 teaspoons fresh thyme (Molly’s thyme plant was long since dead, so we just used it from the spice jar to taste. Fresh definitely recommended.)
3⁄4 pound new potatoes, quartered
5 carrots, peeled, cut in 1-inch pieces
1 onion, cut in wedges
1⁄2 (8-ounce) package whole fresh mushrooms, cut in halves
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 teaspoon pepper

Heat oil in a Dutch oven or deep skillet over high heat.. Add beef and garlic. Sauté 5 to 7 minutes until beef is browned. Add broth, wine, tomato paste and thyme; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1-1/2 hours or until steak is tender. Add potatoes and next five ingredients. Simmer, uncovered, 30 minutes or until vegetables are almost tender.
(The only other things we did differently were adding some garlic powder and worcestshire sauce. It just seemed like it needed some.)

Cornmeal-Thyme Dumplings, recipe follows (again, we skipped the dumplings)
Makes 12
3⁄4 cup stone-ground white or yellow cornmeal
3⁄4 cup bread flour
11⁄2 teaspoons baking powder
3⁄4 teaspoon salt
2-3 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1⁄2 cup milk
Combine cornmeal, bread flour, baking powder, salt and thyme in a bowl until well blended. Add butter and milk, stirring to blend. Cook as directed in main recipe. Scoop dough for dumplings by rounded tablespoons on top of stew; cook over low heat, uncovered, 10 minutes. Cover and cook 18 to 20 minutes, until dumplings are done. Avoid boiling mixture to prevent dumplings from falling apart.