Beef, Ale and Parsnip Pudding

Monday 5 December 2016

The Toddster grew up during the War years.  He was born just before the beginning of WW2, and was only 7 years old when it finished.  His mom was a very traditional cook, and of course there was rationing for all of his growing up years.  He has very fond memories however of the dishes his mother made.  He especially loved her meat puddings.

When I talk about a meat pudding here I am not talking about a sweet pudding, but a very delicious steamed savoury pudding, stogged full of meat and gravy.  Some might think it a bit stodgy . . . but then again dishes which were popular during those years were designed to fill em up with less meat and more stodge.

Todd was longing for a meat pudding and so I did a search online to see if I could find a good one.  I found a fabulous one on BBC GoodFood.  It was called Beef, Ale and Parsnip Pudding and it looked fabulous!

Since it was my first time making a meat pudding, I followed the recipe exactly this first time.  It was very easy to do.  I think just about anyone could do it.  The only change I made was to substitute half of the beef suet for grated cold butter.

It was fabulously delicious!  I quite liked it myself, and Todd was in Meat Pudding heaven!  The gravy was rich and wonderful.  The pastry was nice and crisp, and the meat so tender.   Unlike the BBC recipe, I also cooked the filling the day before and chilled it overnight.  I didn't feel right about adding a hot filling to the pastry.   It worked beautifully.

I served it simply with some boiled potatoes and a mix of savoy cabbage, leeks and cavolo nero.  It went down a real treat!  Todd can't wait until he gets the leftovers tomorrow!

*Beef, Ale & Parsnip Pudding*
Serves 4

Adapted to fit both British and North American measurements from a recipe on BBC GoodFood.  Plan ahead as it works best when you make the filling one day in advance.

For the filling:
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
100g smoked bacon lardons (1/2 cup chopped smoked thick cut streaky bacon)
2 TBS olive oil
500g lean stewing beef, cubes (generous pound)
2 TBS plain flour
3 parsnips, peeled and cubes
500ml of brown ale ( scant 2 1/4 cup)
300ml of beef stock (1 1/4 cup)
2 TBS cranberry or red currant jelly
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste

For the pastry:
butter for greasing
300g of self raising flour (2 cups plus 3 TBS)
2 tsp English Mustard Powder
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
140g of shredded suet (2/3 cup, loosely measured, not packed)
(I used half vegetable suet and half grated cold butter)
150ml cold water (10 TBS)

Make the filling the day before.   Add the bacon lardons and chopped onion to a large pan.   Cook, stirring, occasionally, for about five minutes, until golden.  Scoop out with a slotted spoon and set aside.   Dust the beef with flour.  (I shake it in a plastic bag.  It's easy.)  Add the olive oil to the pan.  When it is hot add the floured meat and brown evenly, over high heat.  Add the prepared parsnips, ale, stock, jelly, thyme and lardon mixture.  Bring to the boil.  Reduce to a simmer, cover and allow to simmer for about 1 1/2 hours until the meat is fork tender. Season to taste.  Remove from the stove.  Remove and discard the thyme stalks. Carefully pour off any cooking liquid into a container with a lid.   Cover and allow to cool, then place in the refrigerator.   Place the meat/vegetable micture into another container, cover and chill overnight.

The next day, about 2 1/2 hours before you wish to eat, remove your filling from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature.   Make the pastry as follows.   Sift the flour into a bowl.  Add the mustard powder and salt,  Give it a good stir.  Drop in the fat.  Stir to coat with the flour mixture.  Using a fork, stir in the water, tossing and mixing to make a soft dough.  Butter a 1 1/2 litre pudding basin.

 Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to make a large circle which is large enough to line the basin with a bit of an overhang.   Cut one quarter of it away and set aside.  

 Carefully lay the pastry in the basin, overlapping and joining the cut edges, wetting them if need be and pinching a bit to join.

Fill with the filling and a small portion of the reserved liquid.  (about 7 TBS)  Fold the overhang over the filling and brush with water. 

Roll the quarter of the pastry you cut away into a circle large enough to cover the top,  Place this "lid" on top, pressing firmly around the edges to seal tightly.  

Butter a sheet of baking parchment generously.  Fold a large pleat in the centre.  Lay, butterside down, on top of the pudding.  Cover with a pleated layer of foil.  Tie with a string, making a loop that you can use to life the pudding out with at the end. 

Sit a small trivet or a large cookie cutter in the bottom of a deep saucepan which is large enough to easily hold the pudding basin.  Half fill the pan with water and bring to the boil.  Lower in the pudding.  Cover the pan tightly and simmer for 2 hours, topping up the pan with boiling water as necessary.

At the end of that time, reheat the cooking liquid, bubbling it down until you have reduced it to a delicious gravy.  Carefully lift the pudding out of the basin.  Run a knife around the rim and then turn it out onto a plate.

Serve cut into wedges along with some of the gravy and some cooked greens if you wish.

This is really, really, REALLY nice!  If you can't find parsnips you can use carrots or another root vegetable that you enjoy.

Bon Appetit!


  1. This looks delicious. I would love to make it, substituting as usual. No parsnips or suet here. Don't whether my greek traditional people would eat it. I would have to devour it all by myself......

    1. Linda, I cannot think of anyone that wouldn't love this. You can use really cold butter, frozen even, grated into the flour instead of the suet. It would make for a richer crust, but so lovely. Carrots work very well instead of parsnips. Let me know how you get on! xo

  2. Thanks for the substitutes. I really like your recipes. I find they are as delicious as you say they are....unlike others...and even with my sometime alterations your recipes are easy to follow. You know your craft

    1. Thanks very much Linda! I have been cooking and testing and collecting recipes since I was about 9 years old and I went to Culinary School. I also cooked for a large family for 22 years and then as a trade after that! I guess I have had lots of practice! xo

  3. It looks like it would please Jacques very much!

    1. It is very definitely a man pleaser dish Monique! xo

  4. My English hubby would LOVE this. Since I don't have any pudding molds, I think it could work possibly just as well as a "pie" instead of a pudding. Am I right, Marie? He does love a steak and ale pie - and is a parsnip freak as well. I have never learned to love parsnips, and I don't know why as I do love most ALL veg!

    1. This would certainly work well as a pie Susan, using the filling in a traditional pie crust instead of the suet pastry, you could use a heat proof bowl also if you wanted to try it as a pudding. I am sure your husband will love it either way! Xo

  5. Marie, what a coincidence - I made this last night! As it was for just two of us, a little while ago I made the full quantity of the meat mixture and the raw suet pastry dough and then froze half of each.

    It was the half from the freezer that we had last night, and it was just as delicious but a little drier, so my one tip when freezing would be to make sure you have plenty of gravy and don't reduce it too far. I froze the gravy separately so that the thawed meat mixture could go straight into the pastry. I steam it in a little Pyrex bowl. I bet it would work great as a pie.

    I love reading your blog, it is such an enjoyable read with such very appealing recipes!

    1. Thanks so much for the info about freezing etc Ellie! Its quite helpful! Also that you were able to steam it in a little Pyrex bowl! I am so happy it was enjoyed! Great tip about making lots of gravy and not reducing it down too far. xoxo


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