For the coldest wintry evenings, tuck into a rich beef stew with fluffy dumplings to warm you right down to your toes.
2 tbsp olive oil
750g/1lb 10oz beef stewing steak, chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 tbsp plain flour
2 garlic cloves, crushed
175g/6oz baby onions, peeled
150g/5oz celery, cut into large chunks
150g/5oz carrots, cut into large chunks
2 leeks, roughly chopped
200g/7oz swede, cut into large chunks
150ml/5fl oz red wine
500ml/18fl oz beef stock
2 fresh bay leaves
3 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
3 tbsp chopped fresh flatleaf parsley
Worcestershire sauce, to taste
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, or to taste
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
For the beef stew, heat the oil and butter in an ovenproof casserole and fry the beef until browned on all sides.
Sprinkle over the flour and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.
Add the garlic and all the vegetables and fry for 1-2 minutes.
Stir in the wine, stock and herbs, then add the Worcestershire sauce and balsamic vinegar, to taste. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Cover with a lid, transfer to the oven and cook for about two hours, or until the meat is tender.
For the dumplings, sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl.
Add the suet and enough water to form a thick dough.
With floured hands, roll spoonfuls of the dough into small balls.
After two hours, remove the lid from the stew and place the balls on top of the stew. Cover, return to the oven and cook for a further 20 minutes, or until the dumplings have swollen and are tender. (If you prefer your dumplings with a golden top, leave the lid off when returning to the oven.)
To serve, place a spoonful of mashed potato onto each of four serving plates and top with the stew and dumplings. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.
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