About this recipe:This is so simple to make, on the hob, just let it simmer away. With spices, as I was used to when growing up, and loads of vegetables. Serve with 'bubble and squeak', mashed or plain boiled spuds and your favourite veg, or with proper dumplings.
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Method Prep:40min › Cook:3hr › Ready in:3hr40min
Put a frying pan with some oil or butter on the hob and let it get hot. Put a big casserole on the smallest burner ready to receive the meat after it has been browned.
Season the flour with the stock cubes (or salt and pepper) and toss the diced beef into this before frying in the hot frying pan. Brown the meat in 2-3 stages so the temperature stays fairly high throughout. Toss the browned meat into the casserole.
Add 200ml of the water (and a splash of vinegar, if using) to the frying pan and let this reduce by half. Pour this into the casserole with the meat. Add the carrots to this.
Put the frying pan back on the hob and let any residue water dry up. Add some more butter or oil to the pan and fry the onions until a nice golden brown. Add the onions to the casserole.
Pour 500ml of water into the frying pan (with the optional brown sugar), reduce by half and add to the casserole.
Put the frying pan back on the hob and let any residue water dry up. Add some more butter or oil to the pan and fry the mushrooms until brown. Add the mushrooms to the casserole.
Pour the remaining water into the frying pan, reduce by half and add to the casserole.
Add the bay leaves, peppercorns, cloves (and the optional nutmeg and juniper berries) to the casserole. Ensure that all the ingredients are just covered with water by adding a bit more cold water if needed.
Bring the casserole to the boil, put a lid on it and reduce the heat to low. Let the stew simmer for 3 hours or until the meat is so tender that it falls apart when touched.
Tie the spices together in some muslin (Wilkinson sell reusable muslin bags) to make it easier to remove them all. You can use 1 piece of mace instead of nutmeg, if desired.
To serve with dumplings
If you want dumplings with your stew, preheat the oven to 200 C / Gas 6. Transfer the casserole to the oven for the last 30 minutes of cooking. Remove the spices, then add your dumpling mixture to the stew. Bake in the oven till the dumplings are cooked through.