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FRUGAL FOODIE: A perfect winter warmer that’s so easy to make

Beef stew and dumplings.
Beef stew and dumplings.

If the weather continues to be as cold as it has been over the last week or two, you’re going to need a real winter warmer up your sleeve.

Make sure you get some nice stewing beef for the freezer before you settle into the house for the holidays.

It’s cheap as chips and creates one of the best winter warmers out there – beef stew.

I have to confess that I didn’t used to be a big fan of a beef stew but I’m happy to say that I have seen the light and it now makes me feel warm and fuzzy when I have a vat of stew bubbling away all day in the oven.

It really is the easiest meal to make and it’s packed full of lovely vegetables so you can feel virtuous while you’re stuffing your face.

With all this virtuousness you can also pop some dumplings in and not feel too guilty.

I must thank Jamie Oliver for his assistance in turning me round to liking stew.

He introduced me to the rosemary, lemon and garlic gremolata that I now have to make for every stew that I produce.

It is sprinkled over the top of the stew when you serve it and it makes all the difference. You must try it.

You just have to chop some rosemary, garlic and lemon zest very finely together. If you have a herb chopper (mezzaluna), it’s very easy.

The recipe here is the stew that I like to make.

I hope you have a very merry Christmas and happy New Year.

RECIPE: BEEF STEW AND DUMPLINGS

INGREDIENTS

For the stew:

A large glug of oil

A large knob of butter

A handful of fresh sage leaves

1 onion, chopped

Approx. 900g stewing beef cut into chunks

Approx. 2 tbsps plain flour

4 carrots, quartered

Half a swede, diced into inch size cubes

Half a butternut squash, diced into inch-size cubes

About 5 small, waxy potatoes, halved

Half a bottle of red wine

Half a pint of beef stock

2 tablespoons tomato ketchup

For the dumplings:

125g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

Pinch salt

80g shredded suet

Just enough water to make a dough

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 160c/gas mark two. Put the oil and butter into a large casserole pan. Add the onion and sage leaves and fry for a few minutes.

In a large freezer bag, mix the meat with the flour, salt and pepper then add the meat to the pan along with the vegetables, the ketchup, the wine and the stock. Give it a good stir.

Bring to the boil, cover and cook in the oven until the meat is very tender. This should take around four hours. When it’s ready the meat should be falling apart.

About half an hour before it’s ready, prepare the dumplings by mixing the flour, baking powder and suet in a bowl and adding just enough water to form a thick dough.

Roll the mixture into small balls. Now add these into the top of the stew and leave to cook for around 20-30 minutes.

I like to serve this with buttery mashed potato and greens.