Old-Fashioned Brown Beef Stew with Dumplings

Brown Beef Stew with Dumplings

January always energizes me. This year I am sharing 1922 recipes. I have a whole new set of hundred-year-old cookbooks and magazines that I’m just beginning to explore, and I look forward to trying recipes that look intriguing and sharing them with you.

Cold, wintery January days always make me crave comfort foods, so for my second recipe this year, I decided to make Brown Beef Stew with Dumplings. This hundred-year-old recipe made a delightful stew. The stew had a wonderful aroma while it cooked, and was hearty and flavorful with tasty homemade dumplings.

Here’s the original recipe:

Brown Beef Stew with Dumplings
Source: Mrs. De Graf’s Cook Book (1922)

And, here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Brown Beef Stew with Dumplings

  • Servings: 3 - 5
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


1 1/2 pounds stewing beef, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1/4 cup flour

3 tablespoons fat (lard, shortening, or cooking oil)

1 small onion, finely chopped (about 1/3 cup)

3 cups water

1/2 teaspoons salt + 1/2 teaspoon salt for dumplings

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

approximately 1/3 cup milk


Put the stew beef in a bowl with the flour. Stir until the beef is coated with the flour.

In the meantime, melt the fat in a skillet or other broad pan that has a lid (I used a 12 inch skillet with a lid). Then put the chopped onions in the skillet and saute until translucent. Add the flour-dredged stewing beef. Increase heat to medium high and saute while stirring until the meet is browned. Then add water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper. When it begins to boil, reduce the heat, cover, and gently simmer for 1 hour and 45 minutes.

While the stew is simmering make the dumpling dough by putting the flour, baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a bowl; stir to mix. Add 1/3 cup milk slowly stirring until a smooth dough forms. (Add additional milk if crumbly and too dry.)

Drop heaping teaspoonfuls of the dumpling dough into the simmering stew; evenly space the dropped dumpling dough across the top of the stew. Cover tightly with lid and steam for 12 minutes. Remove lid and remove from heat, serve.


28 thoughts on “Old-Fashioned Brown Beef Stew with Dumplings

  1. So glad you’re feeling energised. It must be this hearty stew! Long may your vitality and ability to seek out the interesting, the useful and the quirky continue!

  2. It’s true — I rarely if ever make stew in July. But this is stew season, and this sounds like a good one, especially since it includes what my midwestern mind considers a ‘real’ dumpling, and not the rolled ones I met here in Texas.

    1. I’m excited about some of the recipes in the 1922 cookbooks. I enjoy browsing through the recipes, and seeing what recipes they contain for various seasonal foods –such as rhubarb, peaches, and pumplkin – even though I won’t be making some of the recipes for many months.

  3. And I was going to make Vietnamese Beef Stew tonight! This looks a bit easier and maybe just as tasty!! I’ll have to see if my husband is willing to try this recipe instead!!

    1. I’m curious which one you end up going with. It’s always fun look at different recipes and decide which one to make. On another note- I got a cookbook with Chinese recipes for Christmas and have been having fun learning some new cooking techniques.

  4. I make regular stew in a similar manner, though without frying my meat quite so done, and no dumplings, of course! But recently I discovered jar gravy! I’ve been using a container of beef broth, equal part of water to that, and a jar of gravy. Makes the best broth for the stew! I am careful not to add salt in the process, though, as it can be way too much. And of course, potatoes and carrots.

    1. It sounds like a wonderful way to make broth for stew. Thanks for sharing the tip. One thing that surprised me about the hundred-year-old recipe was that it didn’t call for potatoes and carrots (which seem like integral parts of beef stew).

  5. I recently came across an old cookbook with a 1922 publication date in my possession. I have no idea if it belonged to my grandmother or how I acquired it. It is entitled “For Luncheon and Supper Guests” by Alice Bradley published by M. Barrows & Company, Boston. It has interesting recipes in it and is in keeping with those recipes you have shared with us in this blog. I would be pleased to gift it to you so it may join your other vintage cookbooks. Would you like it?

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