This is a bit of a combo post as I’m both cooking a stew (of which was utterly delicious, with a recipe coming soon), and then using that stew to fill suet puddings (which pretty much didn’t work, and is needing a ton of tinkering).
I also didn’t take any photos of the puddings as I was in a hurry to head out. Quite annoying of me, as a lot went wrong with these and I could really have used some visuals to help you guys see what I mean. Grr.
The process of making the stew I’m well versed in, working from a basic mirepoix of veg and getting some red vino and port in the mix for richness. As I’m using stewing beef, it needed to do just that – stew. For many hours. I tried to start using the beef after it had only been cooking for 3 hours, and it was as tough as old boots still. 6 hours later and it was soft, then I got annoyed and just left it on overnight to do whatever it wanted as I didn’t care anymore. 20 hours in total, and the beef was falling apart at the faintest of touches. The gravy was also insanely rich. But I wasn’t after a stew – I wanted a pie filling. But at least I know the filling product is excellent!
Next up I plan on sous vide cooking the meat with some herbs and spices for 48 hours first, then making the stew. This will give them collagens and proteins all the time they need to say goodbye to one another and leave for a better place (in my belly). Plus I can still use the juices from the sous vide pouch in the stew, so much of the richness should still exist.
On to the suet… I’d never cooked with suet before, but my mum has regularly made great dumplings with it. I did a little reading up online, and it seemed I should be steaming the puddings for a good number of hours to cook this pastry. I also needed the stew gravy to be much thicker, much more akin to a sauce than a gravy in fact. But I didn’t have time for this, which could be my first error. I just omitted the gravy bar a small spoonful, so the puddings interior was quite dry.
The suet pastry itself didn’t seem to cook at all. After 2 hours of solid steaming, they were still almost entirely flabby. Is this what should have happened? Because I then took the baking paper and foil out from around them and baked them as normal, and they crisped up a treat – close to what I’d expect from the pastry.
If I had the time, I would have tried reducing the sauce down to a syrup (if it would indeed go syrupy at all). If that failed, I would have tried using a roux to get some substance to it. If that didn’t work, then I’d crack out some xanthan gum to see if that got the viscosity I was after. But I didn’t have the time, so very annoyingly I’m going to have to experiment again before I can write up a finalised recipe.
More woe me, having to make more delicious beef stew so I can take photos and experiment! 😛