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Beef Ale and Barley Stew with a Mustard Suet Crust

Just the thing for cold weather, a rich beef, ale and barley stew topped with a mustard suet crust.

Beef Ale and Barley Stew with a Mustard Suet Crust

You could of course, easily make this into a pie, I was just trying to be fancy! Talking about pies, I do like a nice steak and kidney pie and the addition of ale really does add a good amount of flavour.

So what is suet?

Suet is the raw, hard fat of beef or mutton found around the loins and kidneys. It is used as an ingredient in cooking, especially in traditional puddings, such as British Christmas pudding or dumplings. 

The main brand here in the UK is Atora. Atora suet and can be purchased in any good supermarket or over at Amazon. They also sell vegetarian suet but chances are if you're reading this recipe you won't be in the slightest interested in that.

Yield: 4

Beef Ale and Barley with a Mustard Suet Crust

Nice winter dish. Suet crust makes a nice change from pastry.


350g self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tablespoon Colman's English mustard powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 a teaspoon of baking powder
175g shredded beef suet
freshly ground black pepper
250ml cold water
*1 medium egg yolk - lightly beaten and mixed with a tiny bit of water - for brushing the pastry

Beef and Ale with Barley:
1kg nice stewing beef - diced
a handful of flour, seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper
50g unsalted butter
a glug of oil
2 large onions - sliced
4 fat cloves garlic - finely chopped
2 big carrots - sliced
a good squirt of tomato puree (paste in the US)
a few mushrooms - quartered or you can use button mushrooms
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
2 handfuls of pearl barley - (say about 5 tablespoons)
300ml Ale - I used Whitechapel Dark Ruby Porter Ale (from Asda)
400ml beef stock - made from a Knorr stock cube - Oxo are too salty
salt and freshly ground black pepper 


To make the suet crust:
Get yourself a nice big mixing bowl and sift in the flour, mustard powder, salt and baking powder and black pepper.  Stir in the shredded suet, then stir in 250ml cold water to make a soft dough. 

Add a tiny bit more water if you need to.  Once that's done wrap the dough in cling film and put it into the fridge till later.

To make the filling:
Put the flour onto a plate and season with a little salt and pepper and dip the meat into the flour.

Get yourself a nice big heavy casserole (one that can go on the stovetop).

Heat the butter and oil in the pan and add the meat. Sear all over quickly and then add the vegetables and herbs.

Stir in the tomato puree and pearl barley.  Give it a good stir and then pour over the ale and stock.

Bring to a simmer and then cover with a lid and gently simmer on low heat the stove for about 2½ hours, by which time the meat should be really nice and tender.

When that's all done - get back to the pastry:

Get your pastry out of the fridge (about 20 minutes before you want to roll it)

Preheat your oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7

Roll out the pastry to about 1cm thick.  Cut out some rounds using a round cutter - do 2 per person.

Brush then with the beaten egg yolk - mixed with a little water, pop them onto a baking sheet and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes.  They should be nice and golden.

Serve the hot beef, ale and barley 'stew' topped with two pastry rounds.

I served mine with mashed potato and sliced cabbage greens.  
Created using The Recipes Generator


  1. Todd would just love this Jan! It's his type of dinner! Looks fantastic! xxoo

  2. That looks lovely,great winter food!

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