Is there anything more warming than a bubbling pot of beef stew? The house smells divine, and everyone was hungry & eager to tuck in - just what I love. I love my dumplings to soak up the gravy underneath, but crispy on top. Everyone likes them different though - how do you like yours? Serves 4, you could serve mash alongside to make it go further.
2 celery sticks, thickly sliced
1 onion , chopped
2 really big carrots , halved lengthways then very chunkily sliced
5 bay leaves
3 sprigs thyme
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp plain flour
2 tbsp tomato purée
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 beef stock cubes , crumbled
850g stewing beef cut into nice large chunks
Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Put the kettle on. Put the celery, onion, carrots, bay and 1 thyme sprig in a casserole with 1 tbsp oil and the butter. Soften for 10 mins, then stir in the flour until it doesn't look dusty anymore, followed by the tomato purée, Worcestershire sauce and beef stock cubes.
Gradually stir in 600ml hot water, then tip in the beef and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover and put in the oven for 2hrs 30 mins, then uncover and cook for 30mins - 1hr more until the meat is really tender and the sauce is thickened.
125g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp baking powder
water, to make a dough