Highland beef with pickled walnuts & puff pastry tops

Highland beef with pickled walnuts & puff pastry tops

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(21 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 cloves, peeled and crushed
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 2 x 440ml cans of dark stout such as Scottish Oatmeal Stout or Guinness
    • 85g butter



      Butter is a dairy product made from separating whole milk or cream into fat and…

    • 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 onions, 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, questions and tips

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    29th Jun, 2020
    Absolutely delicious! Cooked this in a slow cooker after marinating the beef for a few hours. Only needed 1 can of Guinness after all, but used a bit more port to make sure the meat was fully covered in the slow cooker. Pickled walnuts and pickling liquid definitely add to the flavour, so I suggest not missing them out. Everyone loved the stew with mashed potato and veggies on the side. Definitely a recipe to cook again and again.
    16th Oct, 2016
    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.
    25th Jan, 2015
    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
    13th Oct, 2014
    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!
    28th Jan, 2014
    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.
    14th Jan, 2013
    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.
    21st Apr, 2012
    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.
    9th Mar, 2012
    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.
    5th Jan, 2012
    Still in love with this recipe, almost a year later!
    13th Nov, 2011
    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!!!


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