On Friday we decided to have stew and dumplings for our dinner so when we went shopping in the morning I called in at the butchers to buy some suet. Dumplings are so much nicer when made with ‘real’ suet rather than the stuff in packets from the supermarket or – even worse – dumpling mix from a packet, plus there is the benefit of knowing exactly what you are eating. You may also be interested to learn that recent research indicates that eating animal fat is not linked to poor health as we had been led to believe since the 1950s.
Anyway I’ve never shopped in this particular butcher’s before, but I wandered in and asked whether they had any suet. “You mean dripping?” I was asked. I assured the butcher that I wanted a piece of beef suet and she disappeared into the fridge looking slightly bewildered. A moment later she emerged with a piece of suet and the words “Fifty pence in the charity pot, is that OK?” So I handed over my fifty pence and returned home,nearly as bewildered as the butcher, with about 700g of suet.
I find it hard to believe that a shop keeper doesn’t consider any item that they have “in stock” to be worth making money on. After all 200g of shredded suet in a pack from the supermarket costs about £1.2o, so there’s clearly a market for it. I accept that not everyone is like me and has a mincer at home, so most people would want to buy their suet in a form that could be used directly. However, all butchers have mincing machines, so I don’t doubt that blocks of suet like the one I got could easily be converted into a saleable product. Maybe the problem is that people simply don’t like the idea of what suet actually is – it doesn’t look very promising, does it? Perhaps people have got used to the idea of meat products being anonymised and processed so that they no longer resemble the animal they came from. I truly believe that if you are going to eat meat, you should be willing to acknowledge its origin and, indeed respect the animal enough to use all of it – even the unappetising suet! Or maybe it’s simply that most people would not have the first idea what to do with suet – I’m pretty certain it’s not currently a trendy ingredient.
Anyway, I was able to extract 550g of usable fat and with 50g being enough to make dumplings for two*, that’s less than 5p per meal for Mr Snail and me. So, I packed it into 50g portions and froze what wasn’t to be used immediately.
And, I’m delighted to report, the dumplings were delicious.
* Simply combine 100g flour with 50g minced/shredded suet, a teaspoon of baking powder and a pinch of salt. Mix to a stiff dough with cold water. Roll into six equally-sized balls. Drop into your hot stew and return to the oven/heat for 20-30 minutes. In my opinion, best cooked uncovered in the oven so they end up with crispy tops and slightly soggy bottoms!