My all time favourite casserole / stew is based on Jamie Oliver's Jules Beef stew, Jo had the idea of including butternut squash in his vegetables which cooks down to a satisfying mush in the gravy and not browning the meat. Both contribute to producing a casserole which has non of the bitter edges which sometimes result from slow cooking beef.
Ideally when sourcing you beef, buy from a good butcher or farm shop and go for beef skirt or shin which should ensure a great result if its available. I will be buying my from Spout House Farm, delicious local meat.
- Beef - stewing, shin or skirt, toss in seasoned flour
- Onions - chunky chopped
- Carrots - chunky chopped
- Butternut squash - chunky cubes
- Fresh sage
- Fresh Thyme
- Beef stock
- Red wine or beer
- Tomato puree
- Other vegetables, maybe parsnip, celery, swede - chunky chopped
- 50g Suet - vegetable
- 100g Self raising flour
- Dried herbs
- pinch of salt
Preheat your oven to 150c, add all your non dumpling ingredients to a cast iron casserole, ensuring you only add as much stock / wine to just cover your ingredients, bring to a gentle simmer, cover and place in oven for anything from between 2 - 4 hours. I often use my slow cooker and simmer all day whilst at work. Be assured its better to cook long and slowly to achieve a good result, this is slow cooking at its best. You know its ready when the vegetables are beginning to fall and the meat is soft and tender.
Now to make your dumplings, mix all your dry ingredients in a bowl and then add enough water to make a soft dough, split the dough into small round balls - golf ball sized this mix makes approx 6 - 8 balls, be gentle with your mixture as over working makes your dumplings tough, pop into your casserole for 20-30 minutes until well risen and fluffy, serve and enjoy.