You may have noticed from the amount of pastry related recipes on this blog, but I’m a fan of a pie. It’s a consequence of being from the north of England I think – a pie is pretty much a staple, especially in the long winter months when you need something warm and comforting.
They are also an easy way to feed a lot of people, are usually cheap to make and you can prepare them ahead of time.
A pudding is slightly different. Made with suet pastry, it needs to be steamed, rather than baked but is essentially just as easy to make and for me, produces an even more satisfying result.
Suet is of course, raw beef or mutton fat, that you can buy in packets from the supermarket. You can also get vegetarian suet nowadays. Not like that will help you with this recipe, which is as meaty as it gets.
These turned out really well. Kieran doesn’t like kidney, so I cooked them seperately and just dropped some in mine. but for the purposes of this recipe, I’ve included them.
- 650g braising beef
- 100g kidney, sinew removed and chopped
- 3 tbsp plain flour
- 1½ tsp flaked sea salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 35-40g dripping or lard
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 500ml real ale
- 4-5 fresh thyme sprigs
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tbsp dark muscovado sugar
- 350ml beef stock, or canned beef consommé
- 1 tbsp tomato purée
- Butter for greasing
- Mustard to serve (optional) for the suet pastry
- 400g self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting
- 200g shredded suet
- ½ tsp flaked sea salt
1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/fan170°C/gas 5. Trim the beef of any tough bits of gristle but leave the fat. Cut the beef into small cubes, then put in a strong plastic bag. Add the flour, flaked sea salt and black pepper. Tie the end in a knot, then shake wildly until the beef is well coated in the seasoned flour.
2. Heat 25g of the dripping or lard in a large frying pan and fry the beef over a high heat in two batches until well browned all over, adding an extra 10g fat when the frying pan appears dry. Transfer the browned beef to a flameproof casserole. Return the frying pan to the heat and drop in the chopped onion with a little extra fat if need be. Cook over a low-medium heat for 5 minutes or until softened, stirring often. Stir into the pot with the beef. Add the kidney and fry for 3-5 minutes until cooked.
3. Deglaze the frying pan with half the ale, bringing it to the boil while stirring to lift all the sediment from the bottom of the frying pan. Pour this over the beef and onion mixture. Strip the thyme leaves from the stalks and add with the bay leaf, sugar, beef stock or consommé, tomato purée and the remaining ale. Grind all over with a heavy bombardment of black pepper. Bring to a healthy simmer, then cover and cook in the oven for 1 hour. Remove the lid and continue cooking for a further 30-40 minutes, stirring once or twice. After this time, the beef should be almost tender and the sauce should be thick. Remove from the oven, taste for seasoning, then leave to go cold.
4. Butter four mini pudding or dariol moulds. You could probably even use ramekins if you wanted. To make the pastry, sift the flour into a bowl and stir in the suet and salt. Gradually stir in enough water to make a soft, slightly tacky, spongy dough – you’ll need around 300ml. Turn out onto a floured work surface and bring the dough together to form a ball.
5. Remove just under one-third of the dough to save for the lids of the pudding. Roll out the rest until 1cm thick and cut out four circles big enough to line your moulds, using a dusting of flour here and there to prevent sticking issues. Line the basisn with the pastry, to a level of around 3cm under the top edge of the dish. This is important as you must allow for the puddings to rise. Be careful with the pastry; if it rips, the gravy will snake and create a mess. Trim neatly to make a flat edge on which to fix the lid.
6. Spoon into the lined basins. You might not need to use it all, depending on the size of your dishes. Brush the top edge of the pastry with water. Roll the remaining pastry and cut four circles just large enough to sit snugly on top of the pastry edge, then place over the filling.
7. Trim the excess pastry, then press the edges together well to seal
8. Tear a sheet of baking paper that amply overlaps the rim of the basins and, over this, lay a similar-size sheet of foil. Tie with string. Put the pudding basins in a steamer basket in a deep saucepan and add enough just-boiled water to come halfway up the side of the basins after they’re put inside. Cover the saucepan with a tight-fitting lid and put over a medium heat. Allow the pud to steam in simmering water for 1 hour adding more water when necessary.
9. Remove the saucepan from the heat, then carefully lift the basins from the water using oven gloves. Stand for 5 minutes. Cut off the string, foil and baking paper. Loosen the side of the puddings with a blunt-ended knife, then invert the puddings carefully onto a plate. Serve with veg and gravy, made from any leftover filling.