Old School Beef Stew with Dumplings

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

Close up portrait image of a piece of beef in a beef stew with suet dumplings

A Very British Stew with Suet Dumplings!

There ain’t been any messing around with this recipe! It is pretty much the stew I remember eating growing up in the UK in the 1970’s.

It is slowly cooked with pretty much the cheapest piece of beef you can get your hands on.

Shin or shank is invariably my go to cut of meat for slow cooked recipes and this one is no different. I use it in everything from my Beef vindaloo through to my beef and ale pie.

It contains lots of connective tissue that breaks down when slowly cooked. As a result of this, you get a beautifully rich gravy.

Aside from all of that it may very well be one of the first taught myself to cook when I left home. After I ran out of money to buy takeaways that is!

Portrait image of a slow cooked beef stew with suet dumplings in a red cast iron enameled pan

What are Suet Dumplings?

Iโ€™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 just ain’t right without them and they were and remain my favourite part of this dish.

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.

You should really give them a go, you can either use fresh suet, which is the fatty coating that covers the kidney and liver.

A good butcher is your friend here or even dried suet it really makes no difference.

I use dried suet made by Atora, it’s the stuff my Gran used and most likely her Mum too!

I may be fond of international food but this dish is as British as it comes and is a dish I have eaten countless times!

Square image of a slow cooked beef stew with suet dumplings in a red cast iron enameled pan

What Vegetables To Use?

As far as I am concerned the very best vegetables for a stew are roots.

The dish is unashamedly cold weather food, it was all about cooking up big grub when fresh produce hard to find.

Roots, on the other hand, would have been ‘clamped’ over winter and available all year round.

Sure we ow get fresh vegetables from all over the world all year round and as far as I am concerned that ruins many dishes!

This recipe calls for 350g of root vegetables. Do with that what you want, but they need to be the sort of hearty veg that can be ‘wintered’.

Think potatoes, carrots, swede, turnip, celeriac, parsnip and of course onions!

Portrait image of a slow cooked beef stew with suet dumplings in a white bowl

The Perfect Gravy.

Regular readers may have noticed that I am rather fond of cooking with beer!

This recipe is just one example of many that cook with beer. It ain’t just falling over juice, it adds a rich and complex flavour to sauces and glazes.

This recipe calls for a dark beer, something like a porter or maybe even a stout would work a treat.

I very much prefer darker beers for cooking. The flavours tend to be a little bolder and stand up better to cooking.

So, for instance, my pork meatballs in a beer sauce call for a darker wheat beer. My beer roasted pork knuckle like this recipe calls for a porter.

Portrait image of a suet dumpling in a slow cooked beef stew
Recipe for Beef Stew With Suet Dumplings

Recipe for Beef Stew With Suet Dumplings

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

Stew with 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

  • 2 Tbsp Cooking oil
  • 150g Shallot
  • 2 Tbsp Plain Flour
  • 350 g Beef Shin
  • 50 g Butter
  • 150g Potatoes
  • 100g Carrot
  • 100g Parsnip
  • 30 g Celery
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 250 ml Dark Beer
  • 350ml Beef Stock
  • 35 g Dried Suet
  • 70 g Plain Flour
  • 1 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 Tsp Grainy Mustard
  • 1/2 Tsp Dried Thyme
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Peel your shallots.
  2. Chop your beef into 2cm cubes.
  3. Cut your root vegetables into 2cm cubes.
  4. Slice your celery into 1cm slices.
  5. 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.
  6. Cook your shallots until lightly coloured.
  7. Mix together the 2 tablespoons of flour, with a generous amounts of salt and pepper and use it to coat the meat.
  8. Once the shallots have a nice colour remove from the pan and set aside.
  9. 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.
  10. When cooked set aside with the shallots.
  11. Add the butter to the pan throw in the celery, root vegetables and garlic and cook for a couple of minutes then turn the heat up to high.
  12. Add in the Worcestershire sauce and allow to reduce over a high heat until almost dry.
  13. Then pour in the beer and reduce by half ensuring you scrape and meat residue from the bottom of the pan.
  14. When the beer has reduced return the beef and shallots to the pan along with the beef stock.
  15. Check for seasoning and place in the oven covered with a tight fitting lid and cook for two and a half hours at 180ยฐC or 350ยฐF.
  16. Mix together the suet with the 70g of 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. You will need around 50ml of water.
  17. Form into 4 balls and once the stew has been cooking for 2.5 hours, nestle in the dumplings, removing the lid and returning to the oven for 30 minutes or until crispy and golden on top.

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: 1400 Total Fat: 86g Saturated Fat: 37g Trans Fat: 1g Unsaturated Fat: 41g Cholesterol: 218mg Sodium: 1180mg Carbohydrates: 83g Fiber: 9g Sugar: 14g Protein: 59g
Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

21 thoughts on this Recipe:

  1. 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!

    • 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 ๐Ÿ˜€

  2. 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!

    • Haha, that certainly is a lot of suet to use up ๐Ÿ˜€ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

    • 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. 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!

    • Haha, love the idea of a British shop in NYC, we have on in Budapest too but they are delivery only ๐Ÿ˜€ Fortunately we have enough visitors from the UK who bring stuff over ๐Ÿ™‚

    • You can get beef or pork suet from the butcher in large pieces. Cut the fat into small pieces and render down until you have a lovely smooth liquid (very low heat for about 3 hours). When melted (all but a few stubbon pieces), run it through a sieve lined with muslin. When cool, put in a glass container with a lid in the fridge. It will harden again and become white! crumble that into your dumplings instead of shortening. Yumm:)

  6. I can certainly get behind a stew like this! 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?

    • 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.

  7. 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.

    • 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 ๐Ÿ˜‰ 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.

    • I was just testing my readers Pat… Honest ๐Ÿ˜‰ I have updated the recipe, thanks for shouting it up, I really hate proof reading, I am rubbish at it ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. 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!

    • Cheers Jeff… I am lost about Suet, how do you make suet puddings the mind boggles ๐Ÿ˜‰ 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.

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