Pies with cheat ‘suet’ crust and dumplings

suet pieI’m rubbish at cakes (no patience to read a recipe and too much faff for my liking) but I am an excellent pastry maker. Forget all that nonsense about iced water and cold hands and resting the dough. Pastry is quick, easy and essential on a limited budget.

The basic rule is ‘half fat to flour’ with a sprinkling of salt. I always use butter. It may be a bit more expensive than lard or marg but it goes a long way.

Yesterday I made a baked suet type crust to hold the melt-in-the-mouth braised steak that I’d cooked overnight in the slow cooker. The steak was on offer at Morrisons and I bought 2 packs totalling £5.30. This made enough for 20 pies.

braised beefI didn’t trim it or chop it. I simply threw it in the slow cooker with finely chopped onions and mushrooms, two beef stock cubes and a few spices. I tend to use the same combo for almost everything – garlic powder, paprika, celery salt and fennel seed powder. I buy them all in bulk from the Asian supermarket apart from the celery salt which they’ve never heard of.

I couldn’t believe how completely delicious the meat was in the morning and I wanted to eat it all for breakfast. But I didn’t because I have just a bit of self control.

I thickened up the sauce by mixing 2 tablespoons of cornflour with enough cold water to make a thin cream consistency then poured this into the meat stew and heated til thickened.

The pastry and dumplings I made by mixing

  • 8oz/220g of Self Raising flour
  • 4oz cold butter
  • Salt
  • Water

making pastryPut the flour and a good sprinkling of salt in a bowl and dip the butter in the flour before grating it with the large holes side of a cheese grater.

Dip the butter into the flour continuously so it doesn’t stick.

When all the butter is in the flour, add enough cold water to make a slightly sloppy dough.

Don’t mix it up too much. The butter should not be mixed in too well.

You now have either dumplings (if you drop blobs into a boiling broth or stew, put the lid on and cook for 5 minutes) or you have a suet style pastry.

If you want to make a pie, butter a pie tin or Yorkshire pud tin (or whatever you have) then flour your hands and gently push a lump of the pastry into the base of the tin.

Fill with the meat mixture.

Make a lid for the pie by flattening out another lump of pastry and laying on top.

Bake in a hot oven til raised and golden and gorgeous.

cowI love pies but shop pies are crap. Make your own, they’re cheap and you’ll earn five stars from your family. By the way, The picture of the cow is just because I saw him this morning on the school run and thought ‘meat pies’.

For our traditional Lancashire potato pie I would braise the steak as above then chop it up, add diced potato and cook until potato is soft. Make sure you have mushy peas and red cabbage to serve

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