2 tbsp vegetable oil
1kg boneless beef shin, cut into 3cm chunks
200g pearl onions or small shallots
4 medium carrots, chopped to the same size as the shallots
3 celery sticks, cut into bite-sized chunks
3 tbsp plain flour
500ml beef or chicken stock
1 large thyme sprig
4 star anise
buttered cabbage and mash, to serve
For the dumplings
100g, smoked bacon, finely minced
½ tbsp oil
1 tsp thyme leaves
125g self-raising flour
60g beef suet
1 egg yolk
small pack parsley, leaves picked and finely chopped
First, make the dumplings. Gently fry the bacon until crisp in a large lidded casserole dish. Stir in the thyme leaves, then tip into a bowl and leave to cool slightly. Add the flour and suet to the bacon, and stir everything together. Make a well in the middle, then add the egg yolk, parsley, 1/2 tsp pepper and 2 tbsp very cold water, and start to mix into a dough. Keep adding water until you a have a firm but pliable dough. Divide the mixture into eight balls and chill until needed.
Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Quickly clean the casserole dish with some kitchen paper, then heat the oil. Brown the meat really well in batches, then set aside. Tip in the onions or shallots, carrots and celery, brown well, then stir in the flour. Add the meat and any juices back into the dish, give everything a good stir, then pour in the stock and Guinness. Season, then tuck in the thyme and star anise and bring everything to a simmer. Cover with a lid, then cook in the oven for about 2 hrs until the meat is tender.
Remove the stew from the oven and arrange the dumplings evenly on top. Put the lid back on and return to the oven for 20 mins, then cook for a final 10 mins with the lid off to brown the dumplings. Bring the dish to the table in all its glory. Spoon into bowls with cabbage and mash, to serve.