Beef stew with dumplings

Beef stew with dumplings

Tara Fisher

Browning the meat well is very important when making stews like this, so brown it in batches in a hot pan to make sure it doesn’t braise. The meat should also be cut into decent-sized pieces, otherwise they’ll cook too quickly. The larger the dice, the less fat you tend to find on it. Use beef dripping if you can – there’s no olive oil or fancy stuff in this dish, which was my gran’s favourite.


Quantity Ingredient
500g stewing beef
50g plain flour
4 tablespoons beef dripping or oil
100g celery
100g carrot
1 large leek
3 garlic cloves
150g whole baby onions
150ml red wine
500ml beef stock
3 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper


Quantity Ingredient
200g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
a good pinch salt
75g shredded suet


  1. Preheat the oven to 150°C. Toss the beef and flour together in a bowl with salt and pepper. Heat a large flameproof casserole dish until hot, add a little dripping or oil and enough of the beef to just cover the bottom of the casserole. Fry until browned on each side, then remove and set aside. Repeat with more dripping and beef in batches.
  2. Meanwhile, cut the celery, carrot and leek into 2.5cm pieces and roughly chop the garlic. Add the last of the dripping and the onions, garlic, celery, carrot and leek, then cook gently for 5–10 minutes, until softened and lightly coloured. Return the beef to the casserole 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.
  3. To make the dumplings, mix the flour, baking powder, salt and suet in a bowl and gradually add 3–5 tablespoons water, just enough to form a slightly sticky dough. Dust your hands with a little flour and roll the dough into small balls about the size of a ping-pong ball, then set aside.
  4. After 2 hours, remove the stew from the oven and carefully place the dumplings on top. Return to the oven for 20 minutes, uncovered, until the dumplings have cooked through and turned light golden brown. Roughly chop the parsley and sprinkle over the stew to serve.
James Martin
Saturday Kitchen
slow cooking
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