For a long time now I’ve been making savory pastries with suet. They are by far the flakiest pastry I’ve every made, and there’s something about them (the fat? the meat? the meaty fat?) that is just melt-in-your-mouth amazing. I’ve noticed that sweet pastries don’t really work with suet; it’s just a little too meaty tasting, in my opinion. Savory applications work best.
I first started experimenting with suet when I purchased a quarter of a grass-fed steer a while back. Now when I order my half of a hog, I usually pick some up. It lasts a while in the freezer (that’s according to me; I have been told that fat shouldn’t be stored in the freezer over three months but I think mine stays in there much longer and it seems fine) and it makes an amazing quick pastry. What you fill it with can vary according to your tastes and what you have in the fridge. Toss a salad and you’ve got dinner.
For these, I sautéed garlic and one small diced onion in some olive oil. Then I added about a pound of ground local lamb meat and cooked it until it wasn’t pink. Some salt and pepper, a teaspoon of cumin seeds, and a chunk of crumbled feta was stirred in. I left it to cool while making the dough which comes together quickly in the food processor (follow this recipe of mine for Suet Pastry Dough). For this meal, I had in mind these Uzbekistan pastries I used to get in Brighton Beach at a small place called Chio Pio (at least I think it was called that…). This recipe gave me the idea for the cumin seeds; which were a welcome addition.
For a long time I struggled with rolling out the dough and cutting out circles, like biscuits. It was very time consuming. I am always thinking of how to do something quicker, with less hassle, and am so excited that I thought of using Andrea Nguyen’s technique for making dumplings. Which is to roll out the dough into a long snake, then cut it into chunks, and take each chunk and roll into a circle. You save a ton of time, and the circles are much neater and roll thinner. (There are some pictures here that might illustrate this more clearly.) The rest is simple: use about a tablespoonful of filling for each one, don’t over fill, fork them closed, brush with buttermilk (or egg, but buttermilk is more frugal and works fine) and sprinkle with nigella seeds. (I sometimes want to sprinkle nigella seeds on all my breads!) Bake them at 375 for about 30 minutes. Dinner!