Getting ready for the busy Christmas rundown with Beef Stew and Dumplings

The countdown to Christmas has begun.

Yesterday, I ventured into the attic to bring out the Christmas decorations. Today I changed my blog theme to a more seasonal, cheerful one… And the WordPress snow has begun to fall.

Later today I will complete my Christmas menu, and then the job of making lists will begin. Lists of things to do, dishes to cook, people to see, outings to take, and things to buy… Lists of recipes to share with you all.

So with all this busy to-ing and fro-ing going on, who has time to spend another hour in the kitchen to make dinner for the family?

Not me. I have kids to look after, and a job which requires my attendance forty hours a week, and I have all those lists to make.

So what is the solution? Starve? A ready meal (yuck!), or perhaps I can get the kids to chip in?… I don’t think the destruction and mess to the kitchen left would be worth it.

No, I think the solution is to make quick hearty meals like a filling and delicious beef stew and throw in some lovely dumplings to fill empty bellies and provide energy to help get us through this busy month of festive fun.

Beef Stew with Dumplings

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  • Preparation time: less than 30 minutes
  • Cooking time: 2+ hours
  • Skill level: easy
  • Serves: 4


For the Stew

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 25 g/1 oz butter
  • 750 g/1 lb 10 oz beef stewing steak, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 175 g/6 oz baby onions, peeled (or use a normal white onion cut into large pieces)
  • 150 g/5 oz celery, cut into large chunks
  • 150 g/ 5 oz carrots, cut into large chunks
  • 2 leeks, cleaned and roughly chopped
  • 200 g/7 oz suede (that’s a turnip for people outside of southern England), cut into large chunks
  • 150 ml/5 fl oz red wine (I used a small bottle of shiraz that we received as a gift in a hotel)
  • 500 ml/ 18 fl oz beef stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tbsp fresh thyme leaves (or dried)
  • Worcestershire sauce, to taste
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, or to taste

For the dumplings

  • 125g/ 4½ oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 60 g/2½ oz suet
  • water, to make a dough

To serve

  • mashed potato


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350ºF/Gas 4
  2. For the beef stew, heat the oil and butter in a ovenproof casserole dish and fry the beef until browned on all sides. I find this is better done in small batches.
  3. Once the beef is browned, return to the dish (if done in batches) sprinkle over the flour and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic and all the vegetables and fry for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Stir in the wine, stock and herbs, then add the Worcestershire sauce, and balsamic vinegar, to taste. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Cover with a lid, transfer to the oven and cook for about two hours, or until the meat is tender.

For the dumplings

  1. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl.
  2. Add the suet and enough water to form a thick dough.
  3. With floured hands, roll spoonfuls of the dough into small balls.
  4. After two hours, remove the lid from the stew and place the dumpling balls on top. Cover and return to the oven and cook for a further 25 minutes until the dumplings have swollen and are tender. (If you prefer your dumplings golden, as I do, remove the lid after about 10 minutes).

To serve, place some mashed potatoes onto each plate and top with the stew and dumplings.


The beauty of any stew recipe is that you can you adapt it to your tastes. If you don’t like celery, leave it out and add a few extra carrots. Don’t like wine, leave it out and add a little extra stock. Or you can experiment and add one of your favourite vegetables, but remember the cooking time, you don’t want to cook your vegetables to mush!


3 thoughts on “Getting ready for the busy Christmas rundown with Beef Stew and Dumplings

    1. Ya I love dumplings, but I love most traditional food stuff; dumplings, pies, stew, mash, spotted dick. Maybe I should have been born in times gone past.

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