This hearty Irish stew with dumplings is great for big gatherings, or small ones with lots of leftovers
For the herby dumplings
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large flameproof casserole. Add the shallots or small onions and fry until they are nicely browned all over. Set aside on a plate. Add the onion, carrots and sugar and fry until nicely browned. Set aside with the shallots.
Put the flour into a large bowl and season well with salt and pepper. Add the beef and toss together well. Heat another 2 tablespoons of oil in the casserole and fry the beef in batches until nicely browned on all sides. Set each batch aside with the vegetables as it browns.
Add 25g of the butter to the casserole and stir in the remaining seasoned flour from the bowl. Gradually stir in the stout, rubbing the base of the pan to release all the caramelised juices. Stir in the stock, followed by the beef and vegetables, thyme leaves, bay leaves, Worcestershire sauce and some seasoning. Bring to the boil, part-cover and leave to simmer very slowly on the top of the stove for 1½ hours.
Melt the remaining butter in a large frying pan, add the mushrooms and fry briskly for 2 minutes. Stir them into the casserole, part-cover, and simmer for another 1 hour until the beef is tender.
Recipe from Bord Bia (the Irish Food Board)
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