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I love a nice dumpling - don't you?
We don't often have them but when we do, we always say - we must have these more often.
When we do make dumplings we use Atora Shredded Beef Suet. Beef Suet is made from the particular fat you find around the kidneys and groin area of cattle. There are a colossal 1660 calories in a standard 200g packet, but if you just have a couple of dumplings, it's not too bad, even though you are basically eating a lot of fat.
To make dumplings you just mix the suet with some self-raising flour and water and form it into dumpling shaped blobs. Pop them in the oven towards the end of the cooking time on a nice casserole and let them go slightly browned on the top. The full recipe is on the side of the pack. They are stodgy but lovely.
Of course there are lots of other uses for suet. I particularly like puddings made with suet and now that I have the packet in front of me for review, I think I'm going to have a Spotted Dick tomorrow. There are lots of other mouth watering suet recipes on the Atora website. Savoury Eccles Cakes looks a good one.
Suet is presented in a shredded form like lots of little cylindrical shapes each less than a centimetre long. They come in this way because in exposing lots of surface area, they are easier to mix with other ingredients. You can buy beef suet in a big block from the butcher but it will be harder to work with. Somehow, when presented in this shredded format it doesn't really feel as if you are working with fat, even though it is greasy to the touch.
I find that in working with suet and when making dumplings in particular your hands do get very sticky and covered in mix. Using a bit of flour will help to minimise this.
Atora dates from 1893 and is a brand leader. You can also buy a vegetarian suet called Atora Light and this contains 25% less fat than the standard beef suet, but I haven't tried this. Overall, suet seems to be rather an unhealthy product and probably shouldn't feature extensively in your diet, but as an occasional indulgence, then why not?
I would say that Atora pretty much have the suet market stitched up. I don't know of any other brands which supply suet, but I am sure that the leading supermarkets have their own brand. I never look for the supermarket brands and seemed to be conditioned into going straight for the Atora suet and always the real stuff as is this product under review.
The main reason I buy Atora suet is because I love homemade dumplings. Dumplings seem to be one of those foods which obviously contain a fair amount of fat because suet is fat (I believe it is the fat from an animal's kidneys?) and to make a good dumpling you need to have four equal measures of self-raising flour to one measure of suet and a dash of salt (the recipe for dumplings are written on the side of an Atora box of suet).
I am a big stew and dumplings fan and could probably eat stews everyday without getting bored. I love suet pastry aswell, but I have never made any of my own, but wish to do this sometime in the near future and perhaps I will make a steak and kidney pie with Atora suet pastry. I like the fact that there is a new recipe written on the box which gives suggestions on how to use suet with other things. Mind you, I have bought a few boxes over the last couple of months and seem to end up with the same recipe on the box, but it does tell me how to make suet pastry.
I guess that most people buy Atora suet to make dumplings and like I have said, dumplings are delicious with a stew and the great thing is that dumplings are so quick and easy to make. I don't think I have met anybody that does not like dumplings, so this would be a great treat for most people.
To quote an article I read, "Savoury dumplings are made from balls of dough and are part of traditional British and Irish cuisine. The simplest dumplings are made from twice the weight of self raising flour to suet, bound together by cold water to form a dough. Balls of this dough are dropped into a bubbling pot of stew or soup, or into a casserole.
I always make Dumplings to go on top of my beef stew and I have to admit that I do make them the proper way because they taste better like that. You can buy ready made dumplings to which you just add water but actually I find the proper way just as easy. According to the quote above, the proper way is with suet. Now, what exactly is suet? Suet is a raw beef or mutton fat that can be used in baking.
You can buy natural sue but generally the type you find in supermarkets is pre-packaged and dehydrated which allows you to store it and use it over a longer period of time than natural suet. The only suet I have ever found in Sainsburys is Atora shredded suet. It is in a very recongizeable box which has red, yellow and blue stripes of colour on it with The Original Atora written on the front. According to the side of the box, Atora was the original shredded suet and was first introduced in 1893. Maybe this is why it's really the only variety I can find.
The suet is shredded and to me looks like grated cheese, it comes in little flakes like grated cheese and is almost the same colour, if not a bit paler. To make dumplings with this suet is incredibly easy. You basically mix 100g of self raising flour with 50g of this suet, a pinch of salt and mix with water. When mixed it has the consistency of dough but it's a bit stickier. Then you separate the mixture into little balls and cook on top of your casserole for 20 minutes, easy as that.
Once cooked the dumplings have a lovely doughy, chewy texture and a nice pastry style taste. A box of Atora contains 250g of suet. The nutritional values are given for 100g which gives you 830 calories so it's quick an unhealthy treat but a great addition to your casserole. The box is incredibly cheap, it's 73p for a 250g box. What's great is that Atora is not just for dumplings. They have a recipe on the side for a mini goat's cheese, pear and walnut quiche as well as a recipe book you can send off for for lots of others cakes, pastries, etc.
I expect a lot reading this will say shredded suet what on earth is that but it really is something that you should keep in your kitchen cupboard.
Shredded suet is for making home made dumplings, pastries, puddings and pies I can only describe it as being softer than shortcrust pastry but with more the look of puff pastry but not so flakey.
Beef suet 85%, wheat flour.
Energy 830 kcal
protein 0.9 g
carhohydrate 10.1 g
o which sugars 0.4g
of which saturates 46.1g
monounsaturates 29.7 g
polyunsaturates 2.7 g
to make dumplings using atora is so simple, just as quick as using frozen really.
100g 4oz self raising flour
50g 2oz atora suet
pinch of salt
5 tablespoons of cold water roughly
1. Mix the flour, atora and salt with the water
2. Divide dough into 8 and gently shape into balls. (make sure you have covered your hands in flour or it does stick
3. Place on top of the stew or casserole.
Put the lid back on and cook for 20 minutes.
They will become large so dont look at the size when shaping them and think I'll make them bigger as you will get massive ones in the pot then.
Another good use for Atora is in steak and kidney puddings which I will do a separate dooyoo on for the recepe.
For super dumplings especially use atora.
Thank you for reading x
Atora suet could be seen as an unhealthy product in this day and age but it is still a regular on my shopping list.
History tells us that suet was mentioned in a recipe book as far back as 1617.
Very interestingly it was a Frenchman who lived in Manchester who set up the first ever factory to manufacture suet. Gabriel Hugon watched his wife trying to finely chop a large piece of suet and thought that he may make many housewives lives easier by selling ready chopped suet. He sold his engraving business and in 1893 he opened The Atora Suet factory in Openshaw, Manchester.
It is strongly believed that the name `Atora` was derived from the word `Toro` being Spanish for bull.
Atora suet is presented in two ways, firstly the beef suet that many of us have always used and then Atora introduced a vegetable suet, 25% less fat and suitable for vegetarians. The vegetable suet is used in exactly the same way as the beef suet and it has the same taste and results.
I have made my own suet before, buying a lump of beef suet from the local butcher and then rendering it in a saucepan, when the fat has melted any meat or blood will float to the surface and when you take that surface layer off you are left with a pan of good beef fat. Leave it to go cold and solidify and then you can grate it as needed.
Atora makes the most delicious dumplings for stew, I have to admit that I could eat the dumplings without the stew!
You can substitute the fat in a pastry recipe for suet, again the end product is superb.
A few decades ago no self respecting housewife would have bought her Christmas pudding, they were always home-made, a labour of love filled with sixpences and charms.
Years ago suet puddings were always served at schools, school dinners wouldn't have been the same without Jam Roly Poly or Spotted Dick.
I subscribe to jamieoliver.com and have read on his site forum that someone had suggested freezing a block of lard and then grating it rather than use suet, but im struggling to see the logic in that advice.
If you have never tried Suet Dumplings then when you next cook a pot of stew then try them.
For four good sized dumplings take 6 oz of Self Raising flour, 3 oz of Atora Suet, a pinch of salt and put it all into a bowl, use your palette knife and just make sure the suet is mixed thoroughly into the flour. Then add some cold water to mix the suet and the flour together, the mixture should be soft enough to mould into `balls` .
Before you thicken your stew put the dumpling balls on the top of the stew and then replace the saucepan lid, simmer the dumplings for about 20 minutes until they rise and look soft and fluffy. Then put them onto a warm plate and thicken your stew.
You are then ready to serve up.
A hot and filling family meal for a cold day.