This James Martin beef stew with dumplings is under 750 calories per portion and only has four steps in the method.
Although it takes nearly three hours to make, there is very little hands-on time and once it’s all prepped it sits in the oven. We’d recommend batch cooking the stew as it is easy to scale up the recipe and you’ll thank yourself when you find portions in the freezer that you can defrost, reheat and serve with buttery mashed potatoes!
- 500g stewing beef
- 50g plain flour
- 4 tbsp 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 tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
For the dumplings:
- 200g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1½ tsp baking powder
- A good pinch of salt
- 75g shredded suet
- Heat the oven to 150C (130C fan, Gas 3). Toss the beef and flour together in a bowl and season generously 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.
- 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.
- To make the dumplings, mix the flour, baking powder, salt and suet in a bowl and gradually add 3–5 tbsp 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.
- 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.
Top tips for making a James Martin beef stew with dumplings
It’s really important to brown the meat in batches, otherwise if you put it all in at once the beef will sweat and won’t caramelise or brown evenly.
James says: "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."
How can I thicken up a watery gravy?
If your beef stew is a little watery and needs to thicken up you could add a few tablespoons of gravy granules. Just don't go overboard, as it will become quite salty. You can also make a slurry of cornflour mixed with water or mix equal parts butter and flour and whisk the paste, known as a beurre manié, into the sauce until thick.
How can I make this stew even richer?
Add caramelised onions to the mix; these will give it a thick consistency as well as deep flavour too. Equally, you could opting for roasted garlic instead of fresh.
Why do you coat meat with flour before browning for a stew?
The flour does two things, it helps the meat to brown and it will thicken the stew too.
What stewing beef should I use?
Lots of supermarkets sell diced stewing steak or beef but if you’d prefer to dice up your own, James recommends silverside or topside. If you have time to cook the stew for longer, you could choose a tougher cut such as beef shin or cheek which benefits from low, slow cooking.
“This is a hearty meal that doesn't need any sides but you could serve it with mashed potatoes and some steamed greens to make it stretch to six portions.”
James Martin's Great British Adventure: A celebration of Great British food, with 80 fabulous recipes, by James Martin (Quadrille, £25) - View at Amazon
For more unapologetically British recipes that are full of flavour and comfort, you need this cookbook by James Martin. He travelled from coast to coast and cooked up some tasty feasts inspired by his travels. With 80 recipes to browse, we are sure you’ll find a recipe to match the occasion you’re cooking for.
Parenting advice, hot topics, best buys and family finance tips delivered straight to your inbox.
James Martin is best known as the presenter of BBC’s Saturday Kitchen, which he hosted between 2006 and 2016. He's now the host of Saturday Morning with James Martin on ITV. James started his formal training to become a chef at Scarborough Technical College in 1988 and went on to further his skills at Hostellerie De Plaisance, Saint-Émilion, and Maison Troisgros in France before joining Anthony Worrall Thompson's 'One Ninety Queen's Gate restaurant in London.
He became head chef at just 22 when he joined Hotel Du Vin and went on to work in some of the best restaurants in London including Harvey’s in Wandsworth, The Square in Mayfair and Alastair Little in Soho. James Martin has been on our TV screen for over 20 years, hosting Saturday Kitchen, as well as making appearances on Ready Steady Cook, and The Great British Menu and is a regular on This Morning. He enjoys cooking for his family and making dishes that are delicious and simple recipes that anyone can follow.
- Jessica RansomSenior Food Writer
Sausage casserole recipe
This easy sausage casserole recipe combines cannellini beans, plum tomatoes, and potatoes into one hearty dinner...
By Jessica Dady Last updated
James Martin beef stew with dumplings
This James Martin beef stew with dumplings recipe takes 20 minutes to prepare and serves four.
By James Martin Last updated
Our chicken casserole recipe takes 20 minutes to prepare and can be cooked in a slow cooker for ease.
By Rosie Conroy Last updated
Tomato, bean and basil pasta salad
This tomato, bean and basil pasta salad is a great alternative to sandwiches for lunch boxes and is also an excellent vegan buffet option if you’re hosting a party.
By Rose Fooks Published
Simple chorizo and tomato linguine with rocket
This simple chorizo and tomato linguine with rocket is the perfect family dinner. Swap the rocket for some steamed broccoli if it’s too spicy for your little ones.
By Rose Fooks Published
Our aquafaba pavlova is an egg-less, vegan twist on the humble dessert and it’s made in four steps.
By Rose Fooks Published