If you’re planning meals for the weekend, then this recipe is definitely a winner for Sunday! It’s perfect on a cold Autumn day – proper comfort food. The recipe originally comes from James Martin’s ‘Slow Cooking‘, which is a great book packed with recipes that you can take your time over (you don’t need a slow cooker either). This recipe takes about 3 hours altogether and serves 4, so we had half on Sunday and had leftovers on Monday night which was brilliant! I have to admit that I did leave out the celery and parsley as they’re two of my least favourite ingredients, but I have included them in the recipe below. I’ve used my own recipe for herby dumplings here, but you could make plain ones if you prefer.
500g stewing beef
50g plain flour
4 tbsp olive oil (you can use beef dripping if you prefer)
1 large leek
3 garlic cloves
150g whole baby onions (I used shallots)
150ml red wine
500ml beef stock
3 tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the dumplings
100g self-raising flour
50g suet (beef or vegetable is fine)
2 heaped tsp mixed herbs
Pinch of salt
Enough cold water to make a pliable dough
1. Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas mark 2. Toss the beef and flour together in a bowl with salt and pepper. Cut the celery, carrot and leek into 2.5cm pieces. Roughly chop the garlic and peel the onions.
2. Heat a large flameproof casserole dish until hot, add a little oil and enough of the beef to just cover the bottom. Fry until brown on each side, then remove and set aside. Repeat with more oil and beef in batches.
3. When all of the beef has been cooked, add the vegetables to the pan and cook gently for 5-10 minutes until softened and lightly coloured.
4. Return the beef to the pan and add the red wine. Simmer until reduced by half, then add the beef stock and bring back to a simmer. Cover with a lid and place in the oven for 2 hours.
5. To make the dumplings (about 15 minutes before the 2 hours is up), mix the dry ingredients together and then slowly add a little cold water at a time, mixing thoroughly until a slightly sticky dough has formed. Flour your hands and then roll the mixture into 6-8 balls.
6. After the 2 hours is up, remove the stew from the oven and carefully place the dumplings on top. Return to the oven for 20 minutes (mine actually took 35!) uncovered, until the dumplings are cooked through and have turned light brown. Roughly chop the parsley and sprinkle over the stew to serve.