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!
A Very British Stew with Suet Dumplings
So many cultures around the world have a classic beef stew.
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!
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?
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.
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 always made me pull a face, but now I love it, although I do cook it for far less time, my buttered cabbage recipe would be ideal!
I only name-check brands of equipment if I think that they make a material difference to a recipe. If you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments section below the recipe.
- 24cm or 10″ oven-proof saucepan with a lid. Cast iron works best.
- Chopping board.
- Kitchen knife.
- Mixing bowl.
- Stirring and serving spoons.
- Kitchen tongs.
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!
- 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
- Cut the beef into 2-2.5cm (¾-1") cubes.
- Top and tail the baby onions being sure to take just a little off the root and then peel them.
- Peel the potatoes and the parsnip and cut them into a 4-5cm (2") dice.
- Heat a medium oven proof saucepan (24cm or 9-10" and around 4 litres) over a medium high heat.
- Season the beef with salt and pepper.
- 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.
- 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.
- Return the beef to the pan and turn the temperature up to high.
- Pour in the beer and reduce by two thirds.
- Mix the flour with a little of the beef stock and stir to form a slurry.
- Add the flour slurry to the pan followed by the beef stock and Worcestershire sauce and stir well.
- Have a taste and add a little more salt and pepper if you think it needs it.
- Add a lid to the pan and transfer to the oven and cook for 90 minutes at 160°C or 320°F
- Mix together the suet with the plain flour for the dumplings, baking powder, grainy mustard and salt.
- Add the water for the dumplings a little at a time until it forms a single quite sticky dough.
- 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.
- Remove the lid and cook for a final 15 minutes to crisp up the top of the dumplings.
The root vegetables in this recipe can be swapped out for any other root veg you wish.
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.