Slow Food

Slow braised Beef in ginger ale, autumn squash and garden vegetables, served with soggy bottom/crispy topped Thyme and pumpkin seed dumplings.

Slow cooking or one pot cooking is a term I am very familiar with from my South African routes.  Whether it was venison, beef or lamb slowly cooked with wine or beer, spices and stock, it was always a magical experience. The aroma filling the air for hours, cooked in or outdoors, the strong smell of cloves where always present and the memories linger every time I open my spice cupboard.

Infused and tenderised slow cooked beef is one of my favourites. Cooked down in a rich sauce with chucky vegetables and then topped with a flaky crisp pastry, or soggy bottom and crispy topped dumplings. Cooking weather permitting, this one is for the cold rainy days, when you want comfort food and cosy time with the family.

For the sauce

  • 2 beef stock cubes made into 1 ½ L of stock
  • 500ml ginger ale
  • 500ml passata
  • 1tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 black cardamom seeds
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 4 – 6 whole shallots
  • 2 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 500g stewing steak cubed
  • ½ medium leek cut into chunks
  • 4 small potatoes peeled and halved
  • 6 – 8 baby carrots
  • 2 gem squash halved
  • ½ an acorn squash or similar cut into chunks
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning
  • For the dumplings
  • 100g self-raising flour
  • 50g vegetable suet or butter
  • 6 – 8 Tbsp. water
  • 1 Tbps. thyme
  • 1Tbsp pumpkin seeds


Stage 1

Place a saucepan over a medium heat, season the meat and seal in the pan along with the garlic, shallots, bay leaf, black cardamom and thyme.

Mix together the stock, passata, ginger ale and sugar, then add it to the meat. Lower down the heat and leave to slowly simmer for 2 – 3 hours or until the meat starts to tender. Do not reduce the sauce too much as you will need sufficient liquid to cook the vegetables and the dumplings.

Stage 2

Now that the meat has softened, add in the vegetables by creating layers. Place the root vegetables on the bottom and the squash on the top, and add the sprig of rosemary. Leave on the heat to slowly simmer whilst heating the oven to 200C. Place in an ovenproof dish just before adding the dumplings.

Stage 3

Prepare the dumplings by rubbing the fat into the flour. Add in the thyme and some cracked pepper, then slowly add the water to form a soft dough. Roll into 3cm balls and place on top of the stew. Slightly press them half way into the sauce. Sprinkle the pumpkin seeds over the dumplings and place in the oven (uncovered) for 20 – 30 minutes until the dumplings has expanded and has a crisp golden brown colour.  Leave to stand for 5 minutes before serving.

This recipe will serve a family of 4.

Dumplings removed the leftovers is suitable for freezing and will make a wonderful pie.

By Deb4food

I am a qualified chef with over 16 years experience in the food industry. My previous experience as a head chef has initiated my creativity and artistic flair, which can be seen in my innovative dishes. I volunteer as a Super Food Revolution ambassador for Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution in Devon and Cornwall, and a community chef for likeminded projects.

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