Nans stew

The nights are drawing in, the holiday tan is fading fast, the Ugg boots are on and the central heating is keeping us toastie warm. It’s this time of year when you really need comfort food so I thought I’d share something very special with you. My dear nans recipe for beef stew and dumplings. It’s too good to keep it a secret. My nan Irene has been gone for over sixteen years now but her famous beef stew and dumplings lives on.

This can be cooked in the slow cooker if you wish but I’m doing it on the stove, like nan. Here’s what you’ll need.

The quantities very much depend on how much you want to make. I was cooking for 7 hungry people plus leftovers.

Approx 1 kg fresh diced beef

Approx 1 cup pearl barley 

Approx 1 cup red split lentils 

1 pack prepared diced carrot and swede

1 large onion 

Mushrooms (optional)

1 box tomato cup a soups 

1 beef oxo cube 

1 beef stock pot

Approx 3 pints water

1 pack dumpling mix

Maris piper potatoes 


Salt & pepper 


I started off with all the beef in my super duper massive pot. I could probably make a stew for about 50 people in this pot! 

  Cover it with the water, a lid, and heat for about 10 minutes. You’ll get a yucky, brown froth on the top of the water, just scoop that off and rinse away. Now add the lentils and pearl barley. These are an essential part of every stew.

Next add your chopped onion, diced swede and carrots, then mushrooms. I sometimes buy a whole swede and bag of carrots and chop myself which does actually taste better I think but often time is an issue so today I cheated. The mushrooms weren’t part of my nans original recipe but I added them as we love them and it seems to work. Cook for a further 20 minutes. 

Time to pop in your oxo cube, stock pot and all four sachets of the tomato cup a soups. In my nans day you could buy one large packet of tomato soup powder but I haven’t seen it for years so had to improvise. I think this is what really gives it it’s great flavour.

It’s important to keep stirring the stew as it gets stuck to the bottom. We always have our stew with roasties but my nan used to do boiled potatoes. For the roasties I peel & chop the potatoes then parboil them for about 10 minutes. While they’re doing, I heat the lard in a roasting tin. I know lard isn’t the healthiest option but in my opinion it’s the tastiest. When the potatoes are done, drain the water, then with the lid on, give them a good shake until they’re all fluffy.

Transfer these straight into the hot lard and shake the tin so all the potatoes are covered in the lard. I sprinkle over salt, pepper and season all.

Pop straight into the oven and cook at 200 degrees for an hour or so, giving them a shake every 20 minutes.

For the dumplings, I cheat again and use a packet mix where you just add water. I find these just as yummy. You can also get frozen ones but they’re not as nice. Make them up as per the instructions and pop on top of your stew for the last 30 minutes.

So once it’s all ready, serve with some fresh, crusty bread.

I thought I’d light my autumn leafy candles as we had company, and lit a fire too. It’s so lovely and cosy.

So there you go, my nans beef stew and dumplings. Go forth and make it, share it, tell your friends and pass it down through your family. 

Miss you nan xx



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