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Beef, Guinness and Mushroom Stew with Dumplings

Yields4 ServingsPrep Time25 minsCook Time3 hrsTotal Time3 hrs 25 mins

This is a good old fashioned basic ‘stew’ recipe and can be varied according to what you have got in the fridge. Add root vegetables like swede, potatoes, celeriac, carrots and parsnips. The dumplings are optional, but I think you'll find everyone will love them.

 1 kg braising or stewing steak, cut into 4cm pieces
 Seasoned flour, for dusting
 50 g butter
 2 tbsp sunflower oil
 2 onions, roughly chopped
 100 g flat mushrooms, sliced
 300 ml Guinness
 2 tbsp tomato puree
 1 bay leaf
 100 g pitted and ready to eat prunes
 Handful of parsley
 150 g carrots, peeled and cut into rough chunks
For the dumplings
 110 g self-raising flour
 ½ tsp salt
 55 g shredded suet
 1 tbsp parsley, chopped

Preheat heat oven to 170°C (325°F) mark 3. Toss the beef lightly in the seasoned flour. Heat a third of the butter and 1 tbsp of oil in a frying pan and brown the meat briskly in batches, without overcrowding the pan. Transfer the browned beef to the casserole.


Add a little more butter and oil to the pan and fry the onions until lightly browned. Spoon into the casserole with the mushrooms and carrots.


Add the Guinness and tomato puree and top up with hot water so it comes about 3/4 of the way up the meat. Add the bay leaf, salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, stir well, then cover tightly and cook in the oven for 1 hour and 15 mins stirring occasionally.


Meanwhile, prepare the dumplings: sift the flour into a bowl with the salt, stir the suet into the flour, add the parsley and enough water to make a soft dough. Take care not to overwork the dough. Shape the dumplings into small balls.


Add the prunes to the stew and place dumplings on top of the hot stew. Cover the casserole and cook for a further 20 minutes.


Increase the oven temperature to 175°C (350°F) mark 5. Remove the casserole lid and continue to cook for about 20 minutes to dry the surface of the dumplings or until the meat comes apart with a push of your finger. Add a little more water if the meat begins to dry out. Check the seasoning and serve with a winter warmer like mash or jacket potato.