Braised beef in ale with scone topping

Braised beef in ale with scone topping

One of those hearty recipes that never fails to please is Beef that has been cooked in ale. If you want to save some time, pick up one of Baker Phil's handmade Scones instead of making your own! Serves 4. 


  • 1 Bottle of Turnbull's 1880 Gold (brewed by Alnwick Brewery) 
  • 500ml fresh beef stock
  • 1.2kg Northumbrian Braising Steak, cut even pieces
  • 4 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 200g smoked bacon lardons
  • 25g butter
  • 250g chestnut mushrooms, thickly sliced
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 20g plain flour
  • 3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 bay leaves

For the mustard scone topping (or pickup a Turnbull's Cheese scone) 

  • 225g self-raising flour, plus extra to dust
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp English mustard powder
  • 1/2 tsp each salt and ground black pepper
  • 55g chilled butter, cut into small pieces
  • 150g cheddar, finely grated
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh curly leaf parsley
  • Mix of 60ml milk and 60ml water, warmed, plus extra milk for brushing
  • 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard


  1. Boil the ale and beef stock in a pan until reduced to 600ml (15-20 minutes)

  2. Meanwhile, season the beef. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Add half the beef and brown for 1 minute on each side. Put in the baking dish. Repeat with the remaining beef and another 1 tbsp oil.

  3. Add the bacon to the pan and stir-fry for 2 minutes until golden. Put in the baking dish using a slotted spoon. Add 1 tbsp oil and half the butter to the pan. When the butter has melted, add the mushrooms. Stir-fry over a high heat for 2 minutes, then spoon them over the beef and bacon.

  4. Heat the oven to 150°C/130°C fan/gas 2. Turn the heat down to low-medium. Add the remaining butter and oil to the pan with the onions and sugar and fry for about 20-25 minutes, stirring frequently, until richly caramelised. Add the garlic and thyme and cook for 1 minute more.

  5. Stir the 20g flour into the onions, then the ale and stock reduction, and bring to the boil, stirring. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce and bay leaves and season lightly to taste. Pour the sauce over the meat, then cover the dish with foil, sealing it well around the edges. Cook for 2-2 1/2 hours until the beef is meltingly tender.

  6. When the beef is tender, make the topping. Sift the flour, baking powder, mustard powder, salt and pepper into a food processor. Add the butter and pulse until it resembles fine breadcrumbs (or put the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl, then work in the butter with your fingertips). Tip into a large mixing bowl and mix in 100g of the grated cheese and the herbs. Mix the warm milk and water with the wholegrain mustard, add it to the bowl and mix in with a dinner knife. Bring the dough together with your hands, turn out onto a floured work surface and gently press out until 1.5cm thick. Cut into 6cm rounds, then combine the offcuts to make 12 scones.

  7. Remove the beef from the oven, then remove and discard the foil. Turn up the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/gas 7. Brush the scone tops with milk and sprinkle over the remaining 50g cheese. Arrange the scones over the baking dish, then bake for 20 minutes until they’re risen and golden. Serve with seasonal greens.  

TIP: Braise the beef up to 48 hours in advance. Reheat (covered in foil) in a low oven while you make the scones, carrying on from step 6.