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Beef Stew and Dumplings in an Ale Gravy

Beef stew and suet dumplings, a British institution, slowly cooked chunks of meat simmered in a beer-based gravy with root vegetables.

Potatoes, parsnips, carrots and onions make up the vegetable element and the suet dumplings are so simple to make but add so much!

Gravy being poured over a British beef stew with dumplings.

A Very British Stew with Suet Dumplings

So many cultures around the world have a classic beef stew.

From Hungarian Marha porkolt to French beef daube all the way to Indonesian spicy beef rendang and Greek kokkinisto they are so common and so delicious.

Beef stew and dumplings is the British variant that I grew up with. Although my Mom definitely would not have cooked with beer… ever!

My version is pretty traditional and features big chunks of seared beef and root veg. It is all simmered nice and slowly in a simple in a boldly flavoured gravy.

The suet dumplings are the icing on the cake. They were likely a source of stretching a meal further but I honestly think that they are the star of the dish.

If it doesn’t have dumplings it ain’t a proper “English” stew as far as I am concerned.

They have a fairly neutral flavour but they mop up all of that boozy ale gravy perfectly.

This recipe may very well be one of the first things that I taught myself to cook when I left home. After I ran out of money to buy takeaways that is!

Overhead British beef and ale stew with dumplings, carrots and potatoes.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Suet Dumplings?

Suet is the fatty coating that covers the kidney and liver, it does not sound particularly appetising. But it is the most wonderful fat to use.

I use dried suet made by Atora, it’s the stuff my Mom and Nan used. Most likely her Mum too used it too, it has been around since the 1890’s!

My suet dumpling recipe and method leads to a crispy topping and soft and squidgy underbelly.

But you could equally keep them soft by adding them and cooking with a lid on rather than off.

What cut of beef should I use?

I used brisket for this recipe, but it is great with any stewing beef.

I often use beef shin a cut of meat that I use in everything from my beef vindaloo to beef and ale pie.

What sort of beer should I use?

I use a porter in this recipe but any darker beer would be great, you could even use a ruby beer.

You could use stout which will add a little more “bitterness” to the gravy.

Close up British beef and ale stew with dumplings, carrots and potatoes.

Serving Suggestions

I do like to add a little bit of greenery to go alongside my dark and rich beef and ale stew with suet dumplings.

You could throw some garden peas into the stew for the last few minutes.

But I prefer some freshly cooked veg, here I roasted off some tenderstem broccoli alongside the stew for 10-15 minutes.

Other great accompaniments would be runner beans, fine beans or even some curly kale.

My Mom would often serve stew with savoy cabbage. As a kid it alwatys made me pull a face, but now I love it, although I do cook it far less!

British beef and ale stew with dumplings, carrots and potatoes.
Yield: 2 Servings

Beef Stew and Dumplings Recipe

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours

Beef Stew and Dumplings... Welcome to my childhood, this recipe is about as British as it gets and if you have never tried suet dumplings, then you seriously are missing out!

Ingredients

  • 350g (12oz) Stewing Beef
  • 100g (⅔ Cup) Baby Onions
  • 1 Tbsp Plain Flour
  • 350g (2⅓ Cup) Potatoes
  • 100g (⅔ Cup) Parsnip
  • 150g (1 Cup) Baby Carrots
  • ½ Tsp Coarse Sea Salt (Plus extra to taste)
  • ¼ Tsp Black Pepper (Plus extra to taste)
  • 2 Tbsp Cooking oil
  • 250ml (1 Cup) Dark Beer
  • 650ml (2¾ Cups) Beef Stock
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce

For the Dumplings:

  • 35g (⅓ Cup) Dried Suet
  • 70g (⅔ Cup) Plain Flour
  • 1 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 Tsp Grainy Mustard
  • ¼ Tsp Salt
  • ~50ml (3 Tbp + 1 Tsp) Water

Instructions

  1. Cut the beef into 2-2.5cm (¾-1") cubes.
  2. Top and tail the baby onions being sure to take just a little off the root and then peel them.
  3. Peel the potatoes and the parsnip and cut them into a 4-5cm (2") dice.
  4. Heat a medium oven proof saucepan (24cm or 9-10" and around 4 litres) over a medium high heat.
  5. Season the beef with salt and pepper.
  6. When the pan is hot add half of the cooking oil and then sear off the beef, do this in two batches, remove and set aside when the beef is seared.
  7. Add the remaining cooking oil and then add the potatoes, parsnips and baby carrots and onions to the pan and cook for 5 minutes or until the begin to get a bit of colour.
  8. Return the beef to the pan and turn the temperature up to high.
  9. Pour in the beer and reduce by two thirds.
  10. Mix the flour with a little of the beef stock and stir to form a slurry.
  11. Add the flour slurry to the pan followed by the beef stock and Worcestershire sauce and stir well.
  12. Have a taste and add a little more salt and pepper if you think it needs it.
  13. Add a lid to the pan and transfer to the oven and cook for 90 minutes at 160°C or 320°F
  14. Mix together the suet with the plain flour for the dumplings, baking powder, grainy mustard and salt.
  15. Add the water for the dumplings a little at a time until it forms a single quite sticky dough.
  16. Form the dough into 4 evenly sized dumplings and add them to the stew, return the lid and pop the pan back into the oven for another 45 minutes.
  17. Remove the lid and cook for a final 15 minutes to crisp up the top of the dumplings.

Notes

The root vegetables in this recipe can be swapped out for any other root veg you wish.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

2

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 885Total Fat: 39gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 23gCholesterol: 49mgSodium: 2078mgCarbohydrates: 99gFiber: 10gSugar: 14gProtein: 29g

Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

Did you make this recipe?

If you made this recipe, I'd love to see what you did and what I can do better, share a picture with me on Instagram and tag me @krumplibrian and tell me how it went!

Ramona

Thursday 1st of February 2018

This looks totally scrumptious. I could eat this just about every other day. Brilliant recipe. ??

Brian Jones

Friday 2nd of February 2018

Absolutely,cozy night memories from my childhood :D

Catherine

Thursday 1st of February 2018

Those dumplings look absolutely PERFECT!! It's been such a long while since I've made any dumplings... this was just the nudge I needed!

Brian Jones

Thursday 1st of February 2018

Haha, it's nice to inspire and your comment this afternoon has persuaded me to add the ingredients for a chicken dumpling casserole to my menu next week :D

Kelly Cusce

Wednesday 7th of December 2016

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

Thursday 8th of December 2016

Haha, that certainly is a lot of suet to use up :D 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 :)

Whitney

Tuesday 12th of January 2016

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

Wednesday 13th of January 2016

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

Mary (The Godmother @ Goodie Godmother)

Thursday 7th of January 2016

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

Wednesday 13th of January 2016

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 :)

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