Highland beef with pickled walnuts & puff pastry tops

Highland beef with pickled walnuts & puff pastry tops

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(20 ratings)

Ready in about 3½ hours, including cooking


Serves 8
A rich beef stew that gets better the longer it's kept. The pickled walnuts add a tangy touch. Make up to three days ahead

Nutrition and extra info

  • Freezable


  • kcal900
  • fat54g
  • saturates17g
  • carbs37g
  • sugars5g
  • fibre2g
  • protein51g
  • salt1.51g
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    For the pastry puffs

    • 375g pack ready-rolled puff pastry
    • 1 egg, beaten



      The ultimate convenience food, eggs are powerhouses of nutrition, packed with protein and a…

    For the stew

    • 1½ kg stewing beef, cut into 5cm/2in pieces, excess fat removed
    • 2 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 2 x 440ml cans of dark stout such as Scottish Oatmeal Stout or Guinness
    • 85g butter



      Butter is made when lactic-acid producing bacteria are added to cream and churned to make an…

    • 3 tbsp olive oil
      olive oil

      Olive oil

      ol-iv oyl

      Probably the most widely-used oil in cooking, olive oil is pressed from fresh olives. It's…

    • 100g smoked streaky bacon, roughly chopped
    • 3 large Spanish onion, finely chopped



      Onions are endlessly versatile and an essential ingredient in countless recipes. Native to Asia…

    • 2 tbsp plain flour
    • 350ml port
    • 390g jar pickled walnuts, halved (reserve 2 tbsp pickling vinegar)



      Walnuts are one of the most popular and versatile of all nuts. When picked young, they're…

    • 3 tbsp chopped fresh flatleaf parsley, plus extra to serve


    1. Up to three days before, make the pastry puffs. Preheat the oven to fan 180C/conventional 200C/ gas 6. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry a little thinner and stamp out sixteen 6cm rounds. Put the rounds on a baking sheet and brush with the egg. Sprinkle with salt and bake in the oven for 5-7 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Cool on a wire rack, then store in an airtight container until ready to serve.

    2. Make the stew. Put the beef, garlic and bay leaf in a large non-metallic bowl and pour in the stout. Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least an hour, preferably overnight.

    3. Preheat the oven to fan 130C/ conventional 150C/gas 2. Drain the meat and pat dry on kitchen paper. Set aside the marinade liquid.

    4. Heat both half the butter and oil in a large lidded ovenproof casserole. Over a high heat, brown the beef in batches until each piece is sealed and dark brown. Remove the meat with a slotted spoon as you go. Set aside.

    5. Wipe the dish with kitchen paper, melt the remaining butter and oil and fry the bacon and onions for 10-15 minutes until the onions are golden brown, very soft and well reduced.

    6. Stir in the flour until blended, add the port and reserved marinade and return the beef to the dish. Bring to the boil, cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook in the oven for 2½ -3 hours or until the meat is very tender (no need to season). Cool, put in a large sealed container and store in the fridge, or freeze for up to 1 month.

    7. To serve, return to the casserole and bring slowly to the boil (if frozen, defrost and continue as above). Add pickled walnuts and reserved pickling vinegar and simmer for 30 minutes until hot. Stir through the parsley. Re-heat the pastries at fan 180C/ conventional 200C/gas 6 for 3-4 minutes. To serve, ladle into bowls, top with a couple of pastry puffs and sprinkle with a little chopped parsley.

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    Comments (23)

    sheenamackenzie's picture

    I used chestnuts instead of walnuts and added some grape jelly as I felt the sauce was a bit tart. I also had some carrots and celery. It was marinaded overnight and cooked really, really slowly and was delicious.

    lizleicester's picture

    This was cooked in the slow cooker and I didn't need all the beer that the beef had marinaded in overnight. It has definitely got more flavoursome now that it's been re-heated.

    Scottie pottie's picture

    I made this for a big party which was complete madness. I have to say I was not happy right through the cooking process whenever I tried the sauce but it just got better and better. I followed the recipe exactly up to the pickled walnuts which didn't sit well... My daughters boyfriend who is a chef was incensed that I could even think of leaving them out so I in they went - I can't tell you the difference it made and I learnt that if you are going to follow a recipe don't leave ANYTHING out otherwise you loose something and you can't make an honest comment as you haven't actually made the dish. He was SO right and in future I will never leave ingredients out. It may sound wrong to include something that repulses you but most of the time it works! I managed to salvage and freeze a couple of portions from the party and it gets better every time! One of the best recipes ever!

    aimsy123's picture

    I put in a spoonful of extra flour, which was good and made the sauce thicker. This recipe uses a LOT of port! In the end I wish it had a deeper "beefy" flavour, but it went down very well, and was relatively easy to cook. I also put the pastry on top as a pie lid, which worked really well, and looked impressive.

    skiffgirl's picture

    First used this recipe in 2004 when it appeared in the magazine as part of a whole Burns night menu feature. It is excellent. I didn't use pickled walnuts but put in some chestnuts which worked fine.

    lynnegraham44's picture

    Easy to make and impressive supper dish for friends. Leftovers absolutely devoured by kids the day after. Never used pickled walnuts before but seemed OK although don't worry if you decide to leave them out. Served with mash and spinach.

    acatraps's picture

    After 2 hours of cooking, I sampled the sauce and found it to be too sweet, so I added a splash of red wine vinegar and I found it needed a lot of seasoning. This may be because I couldn't find any pickled walnuts so this worked instead. I cooked this for 4 hours in total and the beef was so tender. It went down a treat at the dinner party.

    canoedolly's picture

    Still in love with this recipe, almost a year later!

    muishkas's picture

    This was yummy. But instead of stout I used beef stock. Also instead of pickled walnuts I added real ones, and a touch of vinegar.

    Served this recipe in large Vol Au Vents. Yumm!!!

    canoedolly's picture

    Outstanding!!! I made this for our wedding anniversary aka Robbie Burns Day, the make-ahead feature being most welcome for a weekday dinner that was to be somewhat special. I substituted a Pinot Noir for the port; this worked well.

    Next time, and certainly there WILL be a next time judging by family reaction, I shall find a pickled walnut substitute. The flavour appeared to be all in the pickling liquid for this costly item ($10 CDN for a 390g jar here in SW Ontario). As this could have been pickled 'anything', the walnuts being largely indistinguishable tastewise...turnip/swede seemed a reasonable sub....I'll try my hand at an online recipe. Or dump in malt vinegar, worcestershire, an a spot of tamarind if in a rush.

    divadesfeuers's picture

    This is one of the most flavoured, delicious stews I've every cooked. I made it for my birthdayparty and everyone was delighted and asked for the recipe. The best thing is that it is really easy to prepare.

    annmariepg's picture

    Made this at New Year for our party of 14.Not only did it taste fantastic,it could be prepared ahead which greatly reduced my stress level and allowed me plenty of time with our guests . Served it as suggested with baked haggis,braised leeks and tatties and neeps. Everyone had seconds so it really must have deserved all those positive comments.

    mellie_mac's picture

    This has become my daughter's favourite meal (with the neeps and tatties!) She asks for it whenever we have a something to celebrate. Delicious flavour and so easy. I use beef stock in place of the port and it still comes out lovely and rich.

    essgeebee's picture

    Very tasty and rich. Went down a treat on Burn's Night.

    sasibbit's picture

    I haven't made this recipe yet, but would like to. Unfortunately, I live in Portugal and feel that pickled walnuts and stout might be a little difficult to get hold of. Also, the recipe does not say how much beef to use.

    Scottie pottie's picture

    Pickled something is definitely needed, maybe use a strong beer instead of stout but there really is no substitute for stout. The recipe says to use one and a half kilograms of beef. Try it, it really is one of the best recipes ever!

    alisonwheeler's picture

    We had 12 guests round for Burns Supper, and this went down a treat, I could have made double and it would have gone - aong with the Whiskey!


    nicniclambert's picture

    we all loved this one!!!! made this for burns night for my partners birthday meal. didnt put in the oven though, put it in the slow cooker for 8 hours, wow....how lovely!!!! the boys were spooning the gravy out of the slow cooker.....

    maylogan's picture

    We get together with a group of friends to have dinner parties and make one course each. Made this for a Burns' Supper in 2004 and have just rediscovered it in time for ///25th Jan 2008. It was fantastic the first time so fingers crossed......

    steve147's picture

    Excellent ! did this over the weekend, it was well recieved


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