Smokey Chilli Braised Beef with Cheesy Cornmeal Dumplings

Cook Meter:  Professional (time wise only)
Cost Meter:  $$

I am a fan of comfort food, winter warmers and all things slow cooked.  However living in a tropical climate means we get about a month's window when it is actually appropriate to make these things.  That month has officially begun and now that I am back at work I have been making the most of my days off and slowly braising meats and infusing them with rich tomato flavours.

This week I tried a Donna Hay recipe that I found on pinterest.  The smokey flavours of the casserole are enhanced by the cheesy coriander in the cornmeal dumplings.  I have never had a dumpling in a casserole before so this was a great first recipe and definitely one that will go into the books. "Meal of the month" Nick called it and a great way to get back into the swing of things.

The only thing that I find is that it is hard to make a casserole look beautiful, for this is doesn't matter and is definitely worth making it to taste those flavours. I also changed the recipe to use ingredients that I could find readily in Coles.

Smokey Chilli Braised Beef with Cheesy Cornmeal DumplingsAdapted from Donna Hays recipe

2 tbsp olive oil
1.5kg Casserole Beef, trimmed and cut into 2cm pieces
sea salt and cracked black pepper
1 brown onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
1 long red Chilli
2 tsp dried chilli flakes
I also added 2 drops of very hot sauce that we have as we love it spicy
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 x 400g cans tomatoes
2 cups beef stock

cornbread and coriander dumplings
1½ cups plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 cup instant polenta (I used the standard polenta in the supermarket and it worked beautifully)
1½ buttermilk
sea salt and cracked black pepper
1 cup grated tasty cheese
½ cup chopped coriander leaves
1 long red chilli, chopped


  1. Heat tsbp of oil in a heavy based pot. Season the beef with salt and pepper and brown in the pot. You may need to do this is batches, then set aside
  2. Add the rest of the oil and saute the onion and garlic for five minutes.
  3. Add paprika and fresh and dry chilli and cook for a further minute
  4. Add the beef back to the pan along with the remaining casserole ingredients (brown sugar, tomato paste, canned tomatoes and stock) then bring to the boil.
  5. Turn the temperature to a low heat and cook for 3 hours with a tight fitting lid
  6. At 3 hours I found the casserole was not as thick as I wanted so while preheating the oven to 200 degrees celcius I took the lid off the casserole and reduced the liquid for 20 mins.
  7. Add all of the dumpling mixture into a bowl and mix to combine.
  8. Place spoonfuls of the mixture into the casserole (I made mine quite large, a tbsp of mixutre is probably enough and will be quicker to cook) bake in the oven with the lid for 25 - 30 mins until the dumplings are cooked through.
  9. Serve with green veg and a dollop of sour cream.


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