The flour creates a thicker stew and I usually brown the meat pretty well at a higher heat that puts a thin crust around the meat (cook it to rare) it makes for tasty little meat nuggets that melt in your mouth without requiring cooking for hours and hours. Browning that way caramelizes the sugars in the meat for more flavor as well. If you are worried about fat, make sure to drain the meat on paper towels before putting them into the stew-pot. BTW the spice tarragon works well with beef stew. Also I really want to try that chicken and dumplings recipe. I have never heard of dumplings with eggs. Does it make them more like pasta? Sounds interesting. I do make dumplings with my beef stew but they are from scratch. 1 cup flour, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 tsps of baking powder, 1/2 cup milk and 2 tblsps of olive oil.