Old School Beef Stew with Suet Dumplings

>>>Old School Beef Stew with Suet Dumplings
Nothing says winter to me quite like a hearty Beef Stew with obligatory suet dumplings to soak up the beer that is loaded with dark beer!

A hearty beef stew really is my kinda meal between Christmas and New Year, we tend not to do the big Turkey/Ham roast, but I still manage to use every single pan, dish and gadget in the kitchen to cook what was this year a wonderful and rather ‘cheffy’ Venison Haunch for Christmas Dinner. So a one pot wonder is most definitely called for to get a break from all that infernal washing up! Add that to the fact that our corner of Hungary has been blanketed in a fog that is so dense we have not seen the end of our garden for 2 weeks means it is definitely beef stew o’clock. I maybe fond of international food but this dish is as British as it comes and is a dish I have eaten hundreds of times whether that be as a child or by myself, in fact it may very well be one of the first taught myself to cook when I left home to go to college… After I ran out of money to buy take aways that is 😉

I have seen all sorts of pieces of beef recommended for cooking in stews but for me the long and slow cooking really lends itself to using something with a bit of connective tissue that breaks down in the cooking process. For me the ideal cut is a shin of beef, but you could use blade, skirt anything with a bit of fat and body you don’t want anything too lean or it will dry out. I’m not sure if suet dumplings are a thing in the US which, if my assessment is correct, where most of you guys live, but they should be ;). A beef stew aint a beef stew without them and they were and remain my favourite part of this dish, I like my dumplings to have a crispy topping and to be soft underneath but you could equally keep them soft by just placing in the oven with the lid on. But you should really give them a go, you can either use fresh suet, which is the fatty coating that covers the kidney and liver, which you can get from a butchers or even dried suet it really makes no difference.

Like this recipe? Then you should definitely check out this one!  French Onion Soup

This time of the year always feels increasingly odd, all the talk of the end of the year and resolutions always feels just wrong since we became ‘farmers’. The end of the year is nothing more than an arbitrary number for us and the end of Autumn really feels like the end of the year for us, when the final bit of winter wood is chopped and the harvest collected, that is the end. New year feels like nothing more than a mid season break, our new year will begin at the end of February when we can get out in our garden and get stuck in, something we are beginning to plan over the next week when we start juggling our crop rotation plans.

Nothing says winter to me quite like a hearty Beef Stew with obligatory suet dumplings to soak up the beer that is loaded with dark beer!

Beef Stew With Suet Dumplings

Nothing says winter to me quite like a hearty Beef Stew with obligatory suet dumplings to soak up the beer that is loaded with dark beer!

Course Main Course
Cuisine British
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 4 hours
Servings 2
Author Brian Jones


  • Cooking oil. Neutral, for frying shallots and beef.
  • 4 Small Shallot. Topped tailed and peeled.
  • 2 Tbsp Plain Flour.
  • 1 Tsp Powdered Mustard . Optional
  • 1/8 Tsp Coarse Sea Salt.
  • 1/8 Tsp Ground Black Pepper.
  • 500 g Beef Shin. Cut into large chunks between 3cm and 5cm.
  • 50 g Butter.
  • 400 g Root Vegetables. Cut into large 2cm chunks I used Carrots and Parsnip this time but it works equally well with celariac, potatoes, swede, sweet potato... So take your pick
  • 50 g Celery. Cut into 1cm slices
  • 4 Cloves Garlic. Peeled and bashed with the back of a knife.
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce.
  • 300 ml Dark Beer. A porter or stout works wonderfully but I personally favour a dark wheat beer.
  • 1 Tsp Dried Thyme.
  • 1 Bay Leaf.
  • 35 g Dried Suet.
  • 70 g Plain Flour.
  • 1 Tsp Baking Powder.
  • 1 Tsp Grainy Mustard.
  • 1/2 Tsp Dried Thyme.


  1. Preheat your oven to 150 C.
  2. Heat a small amount of the cooking oil over a medium high heat in your cooking pan which should have a heavy base and be able to be transferred to an oven.
  3. Cook your shallots until lightly coloured.
  4. Mix together the flour, mustard, salt and pepper and use it to coat the beef.
  5. Once the shallots have a nice colour remove from the pan and set aside.
  6. In the same pan cook the coated beef until nicely caramalised on all sides, adding oil as necessary, this is best done in 2 or 3 batches. When cooked set aside with the shallots.
  7. Add the butter to the pan when all of the beef is cooked and set aside and throw in the celery, root vegetables and garlic and cook for a couple of minutes then turn the heat up to high.
  8. Add in the Worcestershire sauce and allow to reduce over a high heat until almost dry.
  9. Then pour in the beer and reduce by half ensuring you scrape and meat residue from the bottom of the pan.
  10. When the beer has reduced return the beef and shallots to the pan along with 1 tsp dried thyme, bay leaf and beef stock, then check for seasoning and place in the oven covered with a tight fitting lid and cook for 3 hours.
  11. Mix together the suet with the plain flour, baking powder, grainy mustard, 1/2 tsp dried thyme 1/8 tsp salt and then bring together to form a light dough by adding a little cold water at a time.
  12. Form into 4 balls and once the stew has been cooking for 2 hours, nestle in the dumplings, removing the lid and returning to the oven for 30 minutes or until crispy and golden on top.

Recipe Notes

Nothing says winter to me quite like a hearty Beef Stew with obligatory suet dumplings to soak up the beer that is loaded with dark beer!
Nothing says winter to me quite like a hearty Beef Stew with obligatory suet dumplings to soak up the beer that is loaded with dark beer!

About the Author:

On April the 30th 2008 I got on an plane with a one way ticket to Budapest with wide eyed notions of growing my own food and brewing my own wine… As the years passed by photography became much more than a medium to document my new life and share it with my friends and family, photography became a passion that sits wonderfully alongside my love of food!


  1. Jeff the Chef December 30, 2015 at 12:50 am - Reply

    Venison for Christmas! Man, that sounds fantastic. You guessed right, suet enthousiasm isn’t exactly running rampant in the US – at least not that I’m aware. Some people put it in their bird feeders, and were it not for that, I wouldn’t’ve known the word until I started messing around in the kitchen and read it in The Art of French Cooking. Lard is similar to suet, from what I understand, and I have cooked with it. Regarding the rest of the stew, though, I’ll bet that stout is fantastic with the beef! Nice going!

    • Brian Jones January 4, 2016 at 6:29 pm - Reply

      Cheers Jeff… I am lost about Suet, how do you make suet puddings the mind boggles 😉 Lard and Suet are typically very different with lard being the rendered fat from beneath the pug skin although latterly it has come to mean and rendered pig fat where as suet is typically the coarse and quite dry fat that surrounds beef offal rather that the fat beneath the skin which would be beef dripping. It really is a fabulous ingredient that has no parallel but I’m sure you could sub with some great butter based flour dumplings.

  2. Pat December 30, 2015 at 4:43 pm - Reply

    Add in Worcestershire sauce – not in list of ingrediants – give me a clue 🙂


    • Brian Jones January 4, 2016 at 6:33 pm - Reply

      I was just testing my readers Pat… Honest 😉 I have updated the recipe, thanks for shouting it up, I really hate proof reading, I am rubbish at it 😉

  3. Paige @ Where Latin Meets Lagniappe January 4, 2016 at 12:11 am - Reply

    No, suet is definitely not one of those foods you hear much about…but in the South we eat our share of dumplings! They are usually a flour base, and I bet even the flour ones would taste pretty awesome in this beef stew.

    • Brian Jones January 4, 2016 at 6:45 pm - Reply

      How on earth do you guys cope without suet, before I worked out what to ask for in Hungarian I had dried Suet imported in from the UK 😉 It makes a perfect steamed crust for a UK pie called a ‘pudding’ and also in some dessert steamed sponges. But you are right, the purpose of the dumpling is to mop up sauce so I am sure a flour based duumpling will work wonderfully.

  4. Meaghan | Cook. Craft. Love. January 4, 2016 at 3:53 pm - Reply

    I can certainly get behind a beef stew with dumplings in it! I have never heard of suet but I can’t say for sure if it can or cannot be found here since I’ve never known to look. I wonder if you could just make a flour based dumpling without the suet if I can’t find it in a local grocery store?

    • Brian Jones January 4, 2016 at 6:47 pm - Reply

      Dumplings are all about soaking up gravy so I am sure a flour based dumpling would work just peachy… I have to say I would probably weep if I could not get Suet, it gets used in all sorts from these dumplings to steamed sweet sponge puddings and it is the only pie crust for the wonderful steak and kidney pudding.

  5. Hillary January 6, 2016 at 2:49 pm - Reply

    Oh gosh, I loooved when my mom would make beef stew. I’m not sure I’ve ever had suet dumplings, though! Perhaps cause it was too tricky to find suet in NYC? Anyway, I’ve found a great British shop in town where I get my treacle and suet, haha. Definitely want to give this a try!

    • Brian Jones January 7, 2016 at 10:19 am - Reply

      Haha, love the idea of a British shop in NYC, we have on in Budapest too but they are delivery only 😀 Fortunately we have enough visitors from the UK who bring stuff over 🙂

  6. The mustard in the dumplings is a twist I’ve never seen before, but it’s really creative! Something to try should I ever get my hands on suet.

    • Brian Jones January 13, 2016 at 12:50 pm - Reply

      Grainy mustard would work in all sorts of dumplings, you could push some through a simple flour dumpling if you liked… I am sure it will taste great 🙂

  7. Whitney January 12, 2016 at 3:41 pm - Reply

    I have my eyeball on those dumplings. I love huge dumplings. I also love how the veggies are in big chunks, too. This is one good looking dish!

    • Brian Jones January 13, 2016 at 12:45 pm - Reply

      Ah dumplings, a poor persons way of padding out a meal and this persons favourite part of a meal 😀

  8. […] are sent for export. As a result many of the beef dishes I cook are slow cooked meals just like my beef stew, unless I head to Budapest and buy something a little special. For me that isn’t too much of […]

  9. Kelly Cusce December 7, 2016 at 7:03 pm - Reply

    My husband is English, I am American. He had his mother bring 6 damn packs of suet over so we’d never be without haha, he still has yet to make anything with them! So here I am being a good wife and learning the ways. Thank you for the recipe, the mustard sounds nice, although I’m not entirely sure I know what grainy mustard is, better ask hubby. Stew smells wonderful!

    • Brian Jones December 8, 2016 at 9:10 am - Reply

      Haha, that certainly is a lot of suet to use up 😀 Grainy mustard has whole grains of mustard seed in them and is typically a little milder than a standard ‘yellow’ mustard. You should definitely google steamed suet pudding, that will help you use up some of your stash and is a wonderfully soft and indulgent sweet treat 🙂

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