James Martin's beef stew with dumplings is worth the time it takes to cook - you won't be disappointed!
This classic beef stew with dumplings recipe by James Martin is easy to make and perfect as a family meal on those colder winter days when you’re craving warm comfort food. James Martin may be the king of weekend breakfast TV but he can also rustle up a delicious slow cooked meal.
James Martin’s beef stew with dumplings may take a little while to cook but it is well worth the wait. The rich flavours of the chunky beef stew are just waiting to be mopped up with a freshly made dumpling.
Just as lovely with lamb, switch the meats around so it never gets boring – trust us, once you try this recipe, you’ll be making it again and again! This recipes serves 4 people and takes around 2hrs and 50 mins to make. It is well worth the wait and can be made in advance too so it’s on the dinner table at your preferred time.
- 500g stewing beef
- 50g plain flour
- 4tbsp beef dripping or oil
- 100g celery
- 100g carrot
- 1 large leek
- 3 garlic cloves
- 150g whole baby onions
- 150ml red wine
- 500ml beef stock
- 3tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
- Sea salt and freshly ground
- Black pepper
- For the dumplings:
- 200g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1½tsp baking powder
- A good pinch of salt
- 75g shredded suet
Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas Mark 3. 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.
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 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.
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 tip for making James Martin’s beef stew with dumplings
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.'
In order to get tender beef in your beef stew, you’ll need to make sure there is plenty of liquid to be absorbed. Stewing and/or boiling the meat will make it tender than frying with oil for example. Simmering and cooking the beef for longer means the meat will be more tender and likely to fall off the bone.
James Martin’s recipe uses red wine and beef stock which helps add a richness to the stew overall. If you want it to be even richer in flavour and texture, we’d recommend seasoning and tasting as you go, adding caramelised onions to the mix; these will give it a thick consistency as well as deep flavour too or you could opt for roasted garlic instead of fresh.
If your beef stew is a little watery and needs to thicken up you could firstly add some gravy granules to the juices but of course don’t add too much otherwise it may be too salty for your taste. A healthier option is cornstarch or cornflour. A few tablespoons of this will help to thicken your sauce up in no time.