Feel free to replace the plain flour with buckwheat flour – the dumplings will be a little chewier, but in a good way.

HOW TO DO IT

  1. Heat the oven to 200 C/400 F/gas mark 6
  2. Put the flour into a large freezer bag and season it with salt and pepper. Add the stewing beef, hold the bag closed, and shake until the meat is well coated. Remove it from the bag, shaking off any excess flour, and set aside.
  3. Put 1 tablespoon of the oil into a frying pan, over a medium heat. Add the onion and soften until it’s translucent; about 5 minutes or so. While it’s cooking, put the carrots, garlic, herbs, Worcestershire sauce and tomato puree into a large casserole, and crumble in the stock cubes. When the onions are done, add them.
  4. Turn up the heat under the frying pan and add 2 more tablespoons of oil. When it’s hot, brown the floured pieces of meat in batches – don’t overcrowd the pan – until they’re nicely caramalized, then add them to the casserole.
  5. Keep the frying pan on the heat and pour in a small glass of water. Bubble it up, scraping up the cooking residues on the bottom of the pan, then pour it all into the casserole. Stir all the ingredients together, add enough water to just cover the meat. Put the lid on and pop it in the oven for 30 minutes.
  6. Turn the oven down to 180 C/350 F/gas mark 4, and leave it for a further 2 hours.
  7. When the 2 hours are up, it’s time to make the dumplings. In a dry bowl, mix the flour and suet together with the herbs, a good pinch of salt and plenty of pepper. Gradually add a little water and mix until you have a sticky dough. Too little water, and the flour won’t combine with the suet; too much, and it will be too wet. You’re looking for a claggy mess.
  8. Take out the stew, turn the oven back up to 200 C/400 F/gas mark 6, then divide the dumplings dough into 8 even chunks with a spoon, and add them to the casserole. Baste them with the gravy, then put the casserole back into the oven, uncovered, for another 35 minutes. Serve with mashed potatoes and green vegetables.