2 pounds boneless beef chuck, chopped into bite-sized pieces
Kosher salt and black pepper
4 sticks celery, chopped
3 large carrots, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 large potatoes or parsnips, diced
1 turnip, diced
3 ounces tomato paste
1 (12 ounce) bottle Guinness
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs thyme
1 tablespoon cornstarch, or as needed
½ pound cremini mushrooms, sliced (optional)
For the Cheddar Herb Dumplings:
1 ½ cups self-rising flour
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/3 cup shortening
3/4 cup shredded Irish sharp cheddar
2/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons mixed fresh herbs such as parsley, chives, and thyme, chopped
Cook the bacon in a large, oven-safe, heavy-based pot or high-walled saute pan over medium heat.
Remove the bacon, crumble, and set aside, but leave the bacon fat in the pot. Season the beef with salt and pepper and fry in the bacon fat until browned on all sides. Remove the beef from the pan and set aside.
In the same pot, fry the onion, celery, and carrots until soft and fragrant, adding a little oil if necessary.
Add garlic and fry for another 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato paste.
Pour in the Guinness and Worcestershire sauce. Allow to come to a simmer and stir with a wooden spoon, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
Add the beef back to the pot and pour in the chicken broth. Add the bay leaf and thyme.
Reduce to a simmer and cover. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Add the potatoes or parsnips and the turnip. Simmer for another ½ hour, or until the vegetables are tender.
Remove the bay leaf and thyme branches. If the stew is still thin, mix a tablespoon of cornstarch with a tablespoon of cold water to form a slurry. Mix the slurry into the stew and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce to a simmer again, stirring occasionally, and add in the mushrooms if desired. Cook for 10 minutes, uncovered, until the stew thickens and the mushrooms are cooked through. Stir the bacon back in. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Stir together the self-rising flour and garlic powder in a medium bowl. Cut in the shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the cheddar cheese, then add the milk and stir until the dry ingredients are moistened.
Make small balls with the dough and place them on top of the stew, leaving them room to expand– they grow a lot as they cook. Place the stew in the oven uncovered and bake until the dumplings are browned and cooked through, about 30 to 40 minutes.