I do love Autumn and all the vegetables that come into season at the moment. It is the perfect time to dig out the slow cooker and prepare a load of simple but delicious soups and stews. So when Morrisons asked if I’d like to take part in their Great British Beef Challenge, I just knew it had to involve my slow cooker and a load of seasonal veggies.

Like most parents, I lead a busy life – taking children to and from school and after school activities, amusing a pre-schooler, washing, cooking, cleaning, blogging and trying to have 5 minutes peace to myself, so my favourite recipes are those ones which are fairly simple to prepare but are packed full of flavour. Using ingredients that are fresh and in season means that you get loads of flavour, they will provide you with lots of good nutrients and they are often cheaper and in abundance.

Morrisons sent me a starter pack to get going with my challenge that included in-season vegetables, such as leeks, squash, cauliflower, carrots and beetroot as well as a heavy frying pan, carving knife and knife sharpener, and a voucher to buy British beef from the in-store butcher.

Always one for delegating, I sent my husband off with a shopping list to our nearest Morrisons to buy everything I needed. He is not a huge fan of grocery shopping but was pleasantly surprised by how easy the experience was. He said the store was busy, but not crammed, and the butcher was incredibly helpful. The braising steak that he came back with looked great and was very reasonably priced.

So, I decided I’d cook a warming beef casserole with shallots, carrots, celeriac, stout and herby dumplings. Perfect for chilly Autumn evenings and no hassle to prepare ahead of time.

Ingredients (serves 6)                                       For the dumplings (makes 12 – depending on size)


1kg braising steak                                                150g self raising flour

250g shallots                                                         75g vegetable suet

3 medium carrots                                                  1 tsbp fresh thyme, chopped

1/4 celeriac                                                              pinch salt

4 tbsp plain flour                                                     enough water to make a dough

500ml Guinness (or other stout)

150ml beef stock

salt and pepper to season


What to do:

1. Turn the slow cooker on to preheat (you can cook it in the oven if you prefer) then prepare all the vegetables. Peel and chop the carrots into fairly large chunks, peel the shallots (but leave them whole), peel and chop the celeriac into pieces about the same size as the carrot chunks.

2. Cut the braising steak into cubes (approx 2.5cm) and toss with the flour in a large bowl.

3. Fry off the beef with a couple of tbsp of oil until it is browned all over. You may need to do this in a couple of batches as there is quite a lot of meat. Put the beef into the slow cooker (or casserole dish).

4. Heat up another tbsp of oil in the frying pan and fry the shallots until they are golden. Then add them to the slow cooker with the other vegetables.

5. Pour the Guinness or stout over the meat and vegetables followed by the beef stock. Place the lid on and cook on low for 6 – 7 hours. If you are cooking it in the oven, cover the dish with a lid or foil and cook in a medium oven (approx 180°C) for 2 1/2 hours.

6. You will need to put the dumplings into the slow cooker about 1 – 1 1/2 hours before the end of the cooking time (1/2 hour for an oven cooked casserole).

7. To make the dumplings, mix together the flour, suet, salt and thyme. Add enough water to make them into a dough that holds together but isn’t sticky – it is best to add the water a tablespoon at a time so you don’t add too much.

8. Roll the dumplings into 12 equal balls and place into the casserole, then cook for the remaining time. Season the casserole and serve.

I served our casserole with thinly sliced leeks and curly kale, which I fried for 4-5 minutes with butter, but you could serve it with crusty bread or leave out the dumplings and make some mashed potatoes to go with it instead.

Thanks to Morrisons for sending us the ingredients and vouchers – soon there will be some more beef recipes up on their page so don’t forget to head on over and check them out.