Do not be put off by the long list if ingredients in this recipe, every single one and every step will take you closer to this fab winter dish. Shin of beef is the star of this show with its richly flavoured and slightly sticky warmer. Prepare in advance and give it a day or two to mature and it is even better.
4 tbsp vegetable oil
500g shin of beef, off the bone, cut into thick pieces
4 tbsp plain flour
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and thickly sliced
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 carrot, peeled and thickly sliced
1 large leek, cleaned and cut into thick rings
2 celery sticks, thickly chopped
150 ml or 2/3 cup Port or red wine
1-litre beef stock
1 bay leaf
Tiny sprig fresh rosemary
Tiny sprig winter savoury (optional)
Small handful flat leaf parsley
Salt and pepper
For the Dumplings
100g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
50g chopped suet
1 tbsp coarsely ground black pepper
Cold water to mix
Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas2
Heat the oil in a large ovenproof casserole. Cast iron is great. Add the shin in three parts to the hot oil to seal, drain on kitchen paper once sealed, get the oil hot again and add the next batch.
Add the vegetables to the pan and stir thoroughly so the veg takes on all the flavour from the meat. Cook for 5 minutes. Turn the heat up and add the wine and boil to reduce by at least one-third.
Add the meat and the flour and stir really well then slowly add the beef stock and keep stirring, the stock will start to thicken. Add all the herbs. Cover with a lid and cook in the preheated oven for 3 – 4 hours, checking from time to time to make sure the sauce isn’t drying out.
Prepare the Dumplings:
Put the flour, baking powder and pepper into a bowl and mix well. Add just enough water to form a light and slightly sticky dough. Divide into 8 and roll each into a ball. Add the dumplings to the casserole approx 30 minutes before the end of cooking time making sure the lid is on.
Check the seasoning before serving. Serve once cooked or leave to go cold and to mature for a day or two it really does make a difference. Best served with mash.