Rich Beef and Onion Stew with Fluffy Parsley Dumplings

On a cold day there can be few things better than a rich beef stew with onions and carrots and served with fluffy parsley dumplings.   Warming and comforting and very, very tasty yet all cooked up in the one pot.  How good is that?

The stars of the show are the dumplings  I have to admit that I’ve only taken to making/eating these recently.  I don’t know why but for some reason I remember dumplings as solid things that’s tasted leaden and fatty.  Hah!  These are nothing of the sort and I now realise why every country seems to have its version of dumplings.  From  Italian gnocchi to Chinese dim sum   They are all delicious and a source of national pride and the British have just as much reason to be proud of parsley dumplings  Yum!

I used beef shin in this recipe though you could use chuck or brisket  – or indeed any stewing steak.  I prefer to buy it in a piece so I can cut it into 2cm pieces but ready diced beef is fine.  The recipe calls for two types of onions, the small ones are possible to buy ready prepared as frozen in supermarkets and are often called pearl onions.  Unfortunately for me whenever I do my shopping supermarkets seem to be sold out of frozen so I have to use fresh   Suffering from eyes that readily water where onions are concerned this used to fill me with dread until I discovered that if you covered the unpeeled onions with very hot water for a minute they became a doddle to peel and my eyes didn’t water.  I can’t recommend this tip highly enough so please try it


Baby onions or shallots are easier to peel if you put them in hot water for a minute

The beef is braised in a mixture of beer and stock but you could use all stock if you prefer.  Stock cubes/pots are absolutely fine if you don’t have fresh.  Then it’s just long, slow cooking so the meat falls apart with a spoon.  Add the dumplings for the last 30 mins   I use packet suet as it’s so convenient and easily obtained




Ingredients (serves 6)

For the stew

  • 1.5 kilos beef shin,  diced in 2cm cubes
  • 2 tbsp plain flour, seasoned
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, peeled and thickly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 200g baby onions/small shallots, whole and peeled
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and thickly sliced
  • 500ml bitter
  • 500ml beef stock
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • a shake of Worcestershire sauce (1 tsp)
  • 1 bouquet garni made from 2 bay leaves, parsley stalks, 2 sprigs thyme and tied together

For the dumplings

  • 200g beef suet
  • 300g self-raising flour
  • 1 small bunch parsley
  • Salt and pepper
  • 250ml cold water



  1. Heat the oven to 160c
  2. Put the seasoned flour into a bag with the beef and shake to coat the meat
  3. Brown the meat in 4tbsp of oil over a medium heat in the casserole until browned. Do this in batches if necessary so as to seal the meat rather than stew it.
  4. Put the meat onto a plate whilst you soften the vegetables for 5 mins in the same pan in the remaining 2tbsp oil
  5.  Return the meat to the casserole and pour over the beer and the stock
  6. Add the tomato purée, sugar and Worcestershire sauce. Season and stir well before adding the bouquet garnish and bringing to the boil
  7. Put lid on casserole and place in oven for 2 hours
  8. After this time remove from oven, stir and check seasoning
  9. Turn oven up to 200c and return casserole to oven whilst you make the dumplings
  10. In separate bowl mix together ingredients for dumplings and form them into balls using a little extra flour if necessary
  11. Drop dumplings into the hot stew (remembering they will double in size when cooked) turning them in gravy.
  12. Cook for a further 30 mins until light and fluffy

Light and fluffy parsley dumpling



Fry some sliced mushrooms in butter and oil till soft  Add to any leftover stew  Put into pie dish(es) and top with puff pastry.  Glaze with milk and cook for 30 mins at 180c

Pies made from leftover beef and onion stew




  1. This looks wonderful Rosie!! they seem like what we call biscuits. And Larry’s grandmother from the south always made chicken and dumplings which would have biscuity topping. and– great tip about the onions!! thanks. Hope your week is going well! We are heading home today after our week with kids in Wisconsin (think snowy cold!). hugs hugs friend!

    • Lickthespoon says:

      We’ve got 8 inches of snow here at the moment and weather warnings all over the place. Trains cancelled the lot. It’s two weather fronts colliding – Storm Emma and the wonderfully named Beast from the East!
      I am so glad you got time with your family and enjoyed yourself – how you manage to post as well is amazing. Travel safely home!

      • Hi Rosie– I read about the snows in Britain on my news feed this morning and wondered how that affected you!! 8″ is a whole lot of snow– it must be beautiful! But are you staying tucked in at home for now?? Hope you stay snug friend. xox

      • Lickthespoon says:

        I’m snug in front of the fire at the moment. It is gorgeous here but I bet Wisconsin was the same. Snow set to goon Sunday if forecasts are to be believed! Hope you are home safe – must feel quite balmy there after the last week away

      • Lickthespoon says:

        I finished On Rue Tatin in one sitting as we couldn’t really get out. I absolutely loved it. I am in the middle now of Peculiar Ground by Lucy Hughes – Halley which I think you’d enjoy. It’s about the goings on in a country house at two different times, centuries apart.
        Anyway lots of love to you both xxx. I am looking forward to making your brownies. I’ve never heard of that flavour name before. Sounds delish.

      • Hey Rosie– Glad you liked it ! I did a good amount of reading last week too– with two long flying days and plenty of sitting in airports between planes. Lots of good reading time. I’m off to look up Peculiar Ground. Is it a mystery?? The title sounds mysterious! I just finished Seven Days of Us– set in Norfolk and London. I think the author is British. So good! hugs hugs friend.

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