Suet Crust Pastry

Over the past few weeks we’ve been watching Heston Blumenthal doing crazy stuff in the kitchen.  Things that have my 10-year-old twin boys looking for aerosol cans in the supermarket and dreaming of dry-ice.  While I love watching the show and admire the genius that he is, there is no way that I’m transporting any of that into my kitchen.  Why?  Much of it just takes too much time.  I know that I’m not going to spend hours brining chicken or making stock or freezing the worktop so I can get creative with some chocolate.  I’ll keep watching though and ‘one of these fine days’ might even get to visit the Fat Duck to taste the fruits of his hard work.
Somewhere else that I’ve added to my list of places that I’d really love to go to is Hobbs House Bakery.  With a bakery, butchery and bistro as well as sampling their wares you can also go there to learn to make bread.  I’ve discovered its existence from yet another Channel 4 cooking show –  The Fabulous Baker Brothers starring Tom & Henry Herbert.  They also have an on-line shop and if you were so inclined you could buy a jar of their sourdough starter.  But that is something else I can’t see myself doing for a while.  I’ve seen Tom lovingly knead and rest his sourdough but again too much waiting required to fit in with my lifestyle right now.
One thing I was determined that I would try out though after last week’s episode of The Fabulous Baker Brothers was Tom’s Tri Pie.  I loved the way the pastry was made so quickly and easily and it was all slapped together in a very rustic fashion, no cutting the pastry to make a lid for the top, no fancy crimping around the edges and made using an almost forgotten ingredient – beef suet.
My life is all about convenience which means most of my shopping is a mad dash through the supermarket, swiping at the shelves as I go.  My quest to find beef suet slowed me down though.  A survey of the baking aisle revealed boxes of Atora light vegetable suet but no beef variety.  The butcher at the supermarket told me I’d need to go to a traditional butchers so being a Saturday afternoon The Gravy Man made that trip and came home with a big bag of beef fat some still clinging to kidneys.
I pulled out the aged box that contained the mincer attachment for the Kenwood Chef.  I had never used it before and I suspect my mother who had given it to me had never used it either.
After some investigation we figured out the fitting of it to the Kenwood and after the Gravy Man roughly chopped the fat we gave it a go.  Wow.   If you’ve never minced beef fat before give it a whirl, it is beyond easy and super satisfying.  Butchers are throwing away this beef fat as there isn’t a demand for it so there’s plenty to be had – in our case at Anthony O’Sullivan’s Traditional Butchers.
Beef fatKenwood with mincer attachmentSuet mincing



Suet mincing5

Suet mincing8Suet
As it had become a joint venture the Gravy Man decided to give the pie a go as well so we ended up having our own Baker Brothers style pie-off and …….. he won! (his is pictured at back in these 2 pics and in front on last pic)
Suet Crust Pies in tinsSuet Crust Pies
He worked his pastry more than I did which resulted in a much smoother finish where mine remained on the rustic side though still delicious of course.
This was slow cooking done at the weekend when there was time.  First up you had to make the stew.  Then your pastry (after mincing the suet).  Then potatoes and turnips were boiled and mashed together and finally spring greens were wilted with lemon zest.  You may well ask what are spring greens, as did I and they are very early cabbages with just soft leaves and no hard heart.  I examined the nearest thing at the supermarket which were york and sweetheart cabbages but as they were foreign imports I instead opted for their more robust looking friend, the Irish cabbage.
With the pastry rolled and lining a large springform tin with a good overhang of pastry around the edges you layer up the meat then the potatoes and the greens on top before folding in the flaps of pastry to encase the lot.
Suet Crust Beef Pies
For the complete Tri Pie recipe click on the link above, here I am just giving Tom’s recipe for the suet crust pastry.  This is an amazing pastry that you can use for any savoury pie.
Suet Crust Pastry
You will need:
500g plain flour
250g beef suet
Good pinch salt
250 ml cold milk
Method:
Put the flour, suet and salt into a large bowl.  Make a well in the centre and pour in the cold milk.
Use a fork to combine the pastry and when it begins to come together use your hands to form it into a ball.
Give it a light knead on a flour dusted worktop.  Wrap the pastry in cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes before use.
The pie was cooked in a hot oven for an hour and the pastry was brushed over with beaten egg and a sprinkle of thyme leaves.
Enjoy.
Til next time, Sheila.

About sheila kiely

irish food blogger, foodie, mother of 6, author of 'Gimme the Recipe' published by Mercier Press in 2010

One comment

  1. I really enjoyed that Baker Brothers series. Both pies look fab!

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