I cooked this beef stew for my husband’s grandmother and she loved it. It is always a privilege to cook for women who have been cooking for other people for their whole lives – they deserve to have someone else do the hard work in the kitchen while they put their feet up. I definitely served this beef stew with glasses of wine all round. I recommend a smooth Chilean merlot or a Côté du Rhones. For this stew, there are no hard and fast rules for the vegetables or the meat – don’t panic if you don’t have everything on the list. Stews are a great way to use vegetables before they turn to compost in the bottom of the fridge.
And it’s never just a beef stew. Variations are, as ever, possible. The last time I made this bad boy, I used diced pork steaks. It also works with diced chicken, but you might need to reduce the cooking time slightly so the meat doesn’t turn to leathery chunks. For those who are meat-free, either meat substitutes or loading it up with extra vegetables works well for a beefless beef stew. Diced sweet potato in particular takes this to the next level, with or without meat. And I’ve been known to add diced bacon fried in butter to the dumplings, along with some grated parmesan – don’t be afraid to experiment.