Beef Stew with Prunes and Pumpkin Scones

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Save British beef by eating more of it is what I say. This is a lovely rich comforting stew for the cold winter months. The Pumpkin Scones can be served with the stew or put on top as a cobbler.

Ingredients

  • 900/2lb stewing beef, cubed
  • 25g/1 oz dripping
  • 450g/1lb prunes, soaked
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 300ml/½ pint beef stock

For The Marinade

  • 1 bottle red wine
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • piece of orange peel
  • 1 tsp juniper berries, crushed
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 2 bayleaves, crushed
  • 6 black peppercorns, crushed
  • 2 tbsp brandy (optional)

Pumpkin Scones

  • 115g/4oz butter, softened
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 115g/4oz cooked mashed pumpkin
  • 1 egg
  • 120ml/4floz milk
  • 750g/lb flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • milk to glaze

Method

Place the meat in a large non-metallic bowl. Combine all the ingredients for the marinade, pour over the meat and refrigerate for 48 hours, turning occasionally. Strain, reserving the marinade, and wipe dry.

Brown the meat in the hot dripping. Transfer to a casserole and pour over the marinade. Cover and cook in a preheated oven at 150°C/300°F/Gas 2 for 2½ hours. Simmer the soaked prunes in a little salt water for 20-30 minutes or until soft. When the meat has finished cooking, remove from the oven and put on one side. Heat the oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas 7 for the scones.

To make the scones, combine butter, nutmeg, salt, pepper and pumpkin. Mix in the egg and add the milk, sift in flour and baking powder and mix to a soft dough. Turn onto a floured board and knead lightly. Roll to 2cm/¾ inch thick and cut into rounds using a small cup or pastry cutter. Place on a greased baking tray 1cm/½ inch apart and glaze with milk. Bake in the preheated oven for 15–20 minutes. Cool slightly before serving with the stew.

Reduce the meat’s stew juices by rapid boiling. Mix the flour and the stock to a paste and blend into the juices and then push through a sieve with the vegetables. Return the meat and the prunes to the sauce and simmer gently on top of the stove for another 15 minutes.

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