Beef stew with blue cheese dumplings

Ingredients to serve 4
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teaspoon ground mace
teaspoon ground black pepper
teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons plain flour
1kg beef brisket, cut into chunks
5 tablespoons of beef dripping or vegetable oil
100g butter
2 medium onions, cut into 1cm cubes
4 medium carrots, cut into 1cm cubes
200g chestnut mushrooms, quartered
6 garlic cloves (use smoked garlic if available)
Bunch of fresh curly parsley, finely chopped
400ml English ale
2 litres beef stock
2 bay leaves

For the dumplings

250g self-raising flour
125g suet, shredded
teaspoon salt
150g Stilton cheese, crumbled
50g ground walnuts

Mix the mace, pepper and salt with the flour. Dust the chunks of beef in the seasoned flour, reserving the leftover flour. In a large casserole pot, heat 3 tablespoons of beef dripping or oil and half the butter over a moderate heat. Add the beef and seal. Remove the meat and place on a plate to cool. Allow the casserole dish to cool.

Place the onions, carrots, mushrooms and garlic into the casserole dish. Add the remaining butter and put back on a moderate heat. Cook gently, stirring, for 3 minutes. Now stir through half the parsley and reserved flour. Cook for a further 2 minutes. Pour in the ale, bring to the boil and add the beef stock and bay leaves. Once the liquid has come to the boil, turn to the lowest heat, add the beef, and cook gently for 50 minutes.

Once the stew is cooking, make the dumplings. Sift the flour, add the suet, the remaining parsley and ¼ teaspoon salt. Gently add the Stilton and the walnuts. Using your fingertips, start to work this into a dough by adding a teaspoon of cold water at a time. Form the dumplings into large marble-sized balls. Add them to the casserole pot and cook for 40 minutes.

Ed's tip: To keep the dumplings light, your stew must not boil. It is important to make the dumplings just before cooking them.

Taken from 'Best of British' by Ed Baines (Kyle Cathie Ltd, £18.99)

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