Slow cooked beef in ale with stilton dumplings

Slow cooked beef in ale with stilton dumplings is very easy to make and is great comfort food during the winter months
By Alan Rosenthal
Slow cooked beef in ale with stilton dumplings
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 3.5 hours 30 minutes
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Effort: medium


For the beef in ale:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 900 g beef chuck steak, cut into 34cm pieces
  • 2 onions, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 500 ml Guinness
  • 1 tsp English mustard
  • 2 carrots, chopped into large chunks
  • 2 parsnips, chopped into large chunks
  • 400 g canned chopped tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves

For the dumplings:

  • 200 g self-raising flour
  • 100 g beef or vegetable suet
  • 50 g stilton cheese
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped, plus extra to serve
  • 1 tbsp hot horseradish sauce

Tips and Suggestions

For a slow cooker, follow the recipe instructions but reduce the ale to 450ml. Instead of cooking on the hob or oven, simply pop the dish into your slow cooker. An hour before you are ready to serve, turn the heat up and plop in the raw dumplings, cover and complete the cooking.


1. For the beef in ale:Preheat the oven to 160C/140C fan/gas mark 3. Heat the oil in a large, heavy based, flameproof casserole dish that has a lid and brown the beef pieces for 34 minutes in batches. Once the meat is well browned, transfer to a bowl.

2. Add the onions to the pan and cook gently for about 10 minutes until soft and transparent, adding a little more oil and a splash of water if the pan seems dry. Once the onions have softened, add the flour and stir well. After a couple of minutes, pour in the Guinness or dark ale, scraping off any bits from the base of the pan as these give a good flavour to your stew. Stir in the mustard before dropping in the carrots, parsnips, tomatoes and bay leaves.

3. Return the browned beef and any juices that may have collected to the pan and season with a few pinches of salt and some black pepper. Bring everything to simmering point then cover with the lid and cook in the oven for 11/22 hours or until the beef is lovely and tender and the sauce has thickened. Feel free to cook it on a low heat on the hob if you prefer.

4. For the dumplings: In a bowl, mix together the flour, suet and ½ teaspoon of salt using your fingertips to break up the suet you can do this in a food processor too, of course. Next add the crumbled Stilton and the parsley to the bowl (remove the mixture from the processor if youve used one). Combine the hot horseradish with 150ml water and mix this into the dry ingredients, bringing it together with your hands until youve got a good dough consistency. Using your hands, roll the dough into 810 balls and set aside, covered, to prevent them drying out.

5. When the beef is soft and tender, taste the stew and check it for seasoning as its going to be hard to do this once the dumplings are on top. Once youre happy with the flavour, drop the dumplings on top, cover with the lid and return to the oven or set on a low heat on the hob for 30 minutes.

6. After this time, the dumplings will have puffed up, so remove the lid and raise the temperature of the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas mark 4. (If youve been cooking on the hob until now you need to do the next bit in the oven or under a grill.)

7. Cook again until the dumplings have developed a crust on top. Scatter some chopped parsley over and serve in bowls with creamy mashed potato.

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