Traditional British Beef Stew and Suet Dumplings

Traditional British Beef Stew and Dumplings recipe

The Spruce

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 2 hrs 20 mins
Total: 2 hrs 40 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
507 Calories
29g Fat
32g Carbs
27g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 507
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 29g 37%
Saturated Fat 11g 53%
Cholesterol 72mg 24%
Sodium 829mg 36%
Total Carbohydrate 32g 11%
Dietary Fiber 4g 15%
Protein 27g
Calcium 111mg 9%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

No dish has ever seemed so perfect for a winter's day than a hearty beef stew and dumplings. It has kept Britain and Ireland on their feet during hard times and through winter storms. It always brings a smile to any family when served for dinner.

Dumplings for this dish are made with suet. So if you can't find suet (easy in the UK), then check out the alternatives you can use, or simply just omit them.

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Ingredients

  • For Stew:
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 pound (450 g) thick cooking steak, cut into large chunks
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons brandy
  • 1 cup (115 g) onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup (100 g) leeks, cleaned and finely sliced
  • 1 cup (170 g) carrots, roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2 pints (750 ml) dark beef stock, divided
  • For Suet Dumplings:
  • 4 ounces (115 g) self-rising flour
  • 2 ounces (55 g) suet, shredded
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons water, cold

Steps to Make It

Note: while there are multiple steps to this recipe, this British beef stew and suet dumplings dish is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for cooking.

Make the British Beef Stew

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Traditional British Beef Stew and Suet Dumplings Ingredients
    The Spruce
  2. In a large bowl mix together the flour and the chunks of cooking steak. Make sure all the beef is covered in flour. 

    Flour covered beef cubes
    The Spruce
  3. In a large frying pan heat half the oil to hot but not smoking. Add half the floured steak pieces and brown all over. Remove the steak and place it into a Dutch oven or casserole dish. Add the remaining oil to the frying pan, heat again, then add the remaining steak and brown all over. Again, add the steak to the dish.

    Browning beef cubes
    The Spruce
  4. Turn the heat up high and add the brandy to the frying pan, stir well, scraping up all the meat juices on the bottom of the pan. Continue to cook this mixture, taking care not to burn it, until it becomes a sticky glaze.

    Pan drippings
    The Spruce
  5. Add the onion, leeks, and carrots to the frying pan, stir them well to coat all the vegetables with the glaze, then tip them all into the dish.

    Add the onion, leeks, and carrots
    The Spruce
  6. Place the frying pan back onto the heat; stir in a third of the stock (1/2 pint) and bring to a boil, scraping all the bits from the bottom of the pan. Once all the bits are released, pour the stock into the casserole.

    Frying pan with stock
    The Spruce
  7. Add the remaining stock, cover with a tight-fitting lid, then simmer gently on the stovetop or in a medium oven (350 F/175 C) for 2 hours. Check from time to time to make sure the stock isn't reducing too much. If it is, add a little boiling water. The meat and vegetables should always be covered by liquid. You can also make this recipe in a slow cooker if you have one.

    Beef stew
    The Spruce
  8. Move on to the next steps for the dumplings.

Make the Suet Dumplings

  1. In a roomy bowl, mix the flour with the suet and a pinch of salt. Add 3 tablespoons cold water and stir. If the dough is dry add more water until you have a soft, slightly sticky dough.

    Flour dumpling in a bowl
    The Spruce
  2. Divide the dough into 8 to 9 pieces and shape into round balls with lightly floured hands. Leave to one side while you roll the remaining dumplings.

    Making suet dumplings
    The Spruce 
  3. After the beef stew has cooked for 2 hours, remove the lid, check the seasoning and add salt or pepper to taste. Add the dumplings to the stew, laying them on the surface at even distances apart. Pop one of the dumplings in the middle as well if you have enough. Cover the dish again with the lid and cook for a further 20 minutes.

    Add the dumplings to the stew
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  4. Remove the lid and you will see the dumplings well-risen; if not, cook for a few minutes more. 

    Remove the lid and you will see the dumplings well-risen
    The Spruce
  5. Serve hot into warm bowls. Enjoy!

    Traditional British Beef Stew and Suet Dumplings
    The Spruce

Recipe Variations

  • In this beef stew and dumplings recipe we use leeks, carrots, and onion, but feel free to add any other winter root vegetables you may have to hand.
  • For herb-flavored dumplings, add 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs (parsley, rosemary, and sage work well) to the flour and suet before mixing the dumplings.
  • Or stir a teaspoon of Marmite into the wet dough before rolling the dumplings.

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