Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.
There’s stewing steak and stewing steak. If you can get your butcher to give you the best, all the better. Carefully remove any gristle and fat from the meat and trim into neat 4cm cubes. Spoon the flour and mustard powder into a bowl and drop in the meat, coating it with the seasoning.
Heat the dripping or oil in a pan. Brown the beef, then add the onions until both take on a good colour. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the tbsp of plain flour. Stir in the stock and bring to the boil. Season again to taste, cover and gently simmer for 60 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, swedes and bay leaves and simmer for a further 60 minutes.
Meanwhile, sieve the flour and baking powder for the dumplings into a bowl and add the suet, salt, pepper and mixed herbs. Slowly add 3 tbsp water to the mix to create a soft, but not sticky dough. If you overdo it, add a wee bit more flour to even things out.
Lightly flour your hands and roll the dough into eight small balls. Drop them carefully into the stew, cover the pot, and cook for a further 15–20 minutes. Your dumplings should be plump and moist, but definitely cooked all the way through. (If you prefer your dumplings crusty just keep the pot lid off).
Serve in a lovely bowl with a side of crusty bread and maybe even a light green salad.
The Great Northern Cookbook by Sean Wilson, Hodder & Stoughton Publishers 2012 © Amanda Heywood