Tender chicken sitting in a creamy sauce with savoury dumplings
It’s a classic chicken stew with dumplings so why wouldn’t you want to cook it?
- Prep Time: 5 mins
- Cook Time: 1.5 hrs low and slow cooking (hands-off) + 30 min cooking
- Serves: 2 -3
- Difficulty: easy
- Ideal for: midweek meal, vegetarian, meat-free
Let’s talk suet
It doesn’t sound the nicest.
I mean it’s a type of saturated fat that sits around the kidneys of animals, usually cows or mutton.
And it sounds very British.
As a Kiwi, I don’t remember suet as an ingredient.
But I wouldn’t be surprised if my Grandmother used it a lot in her cooking.
We were once a very British-influenced country… not even that long ago.
However, Brits talk about suet as part of their culinary experience.
And there is a reason for it too.
What’s suet used for?
It adds moisture to sweet and savoury dishes and has a mild taste.
It has a crumbly texture and stays solid at room temperature.
So, it can give you a less greasy pie crust than when using butter.
It also can add a spongy, light texture to things like pie crusts, dumplings, and pastries.
And every Brit loves a good pie crust.
The birds love it too!
I wonder now if my Mum uses suet for her Blackbirds??
She always makes them a weird but oddly tasty-looking ‘fat cake’ for her beloved Blackbirds.
So, if you love a bit if birdwatching.
Get the suet out and make a bird cake – they love it!
The recipe is to melt suet and mix it with peanut butter, oats, or cornmeal.
Can’t find suet?
In the UK, you will have no problem finding suet in a supermarket.
But if you have a local butcher, see if you can get fresh suet.
Like anything, it will be better… and you can freeze it for up to 3 months.
Here are some alternatives to suet, including vegetarian options, from Masterclass:
And they suggest using a food processor to break them up into a shredded consistency.
- Beef suet: Beef suet is specifically made of beef fat and can come from any part of the animal (rather than the kidneys exclusively).
Make this suet alternative by boiling and separating the fat from any cut of beef.
- Frozen butter: Use shredded frozen butter as an alternative to suet in pie crusts. It’s important to note that butter has a lower melting point than suet and will melt much faster.
Butter can also give your foods a greasy texture, so other suet alternatives may be more optimal.
- Pork fat: Also known as lard, pork fat is similar to suet because it is an animal fat with a high melting point.
Consider using lard if you’re trying to create a flaky pie crust or pastry and don’t have suet. However, lard has an unmistakable pork taste, so it won’t lend your dish the mild flavor that suet would.
- Vegetable shortening: Vegetable shortening has a mild flavour like suet and hardens in the refrigerator, making it simple to shred and add to foods that call for shredded suet.
Shortening consists of sunflower oil, palm oil, and wheat flour, which create a similar, crumbly texture to suet.
Like suet, shortening is a solid fat that is useful for baking and deep-frying foods because it has a high smoke point.
Classic Brit dishes using suet
- Christmas pudding: No Christmas is complete in the UK (or NZ, in my day… makes me sound old) without a dense, sticky Christmas pudding is a dense, sticky cake that you set fire to
The suet enhances the flavour of the pudding mixture by adding a dark richness to the taste.
- Dumplings: Suet dumplings are dense English dough balls that home cooks immerse in hearty winter stews.
Simply combine suet with flour.
3. Mincemeat pies: Delicious light pie crust filled with a mixture of fruits and spices, often call for suet.
4. Spotted dick: You’re English if you don’t know this traditional English pudding!
Rich texture and flavour and the addition of suet make this cake even more moist and decadent.
5. Steak and kidney pudding: Another great traditional British dish with ox kidney and steak steamed inside a moist suet-based pastry crust.
Chicken stew with dumplings
And so, that brings us to chicken stew with dumplings (tarragon dumplings).
This dish is more hands-off cooking so don’t think you’ll be standing over the oven for 2 hrs.
Pop it on the hobs for slow-simmering magic to take place for 1.5 hrs.
Then, it’s all about the final flourish… the dumplings.
Recipe inspired by: Pipers Farm Cookbook
Chicken stew and dumplings
- Olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced
- 2 tbsps flour
- 6 chicken thighs
- 1 litre quality chicken stock
- 1 sprig of rosemary
- 200 ml double cream
- 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 2 – 3 leaves of cavolo nero, chopped
- 2 leeks, cut into slices
- salt and pepper to season
- 150 g flour
- 75 g beef suet
- small bunch of fresh tarragon
- In a casserole dish, add some oil then the onion, garlic, and 2 tbsp flour. Gently fry until the onion has softened, then add the chicken thighs, stock, and rosemary. Simmer over low heat for 1.5 hrs or until tender and falling off the bone.
- Once done, remove the chicken from the dish and pick the meat off and discard the bones. Add in chopped cavolo nero and leeks.Add the meat back into the sauce, bring to a simmer, then stir in the cream and mustard and leave on low heat.
- Combine the flour and suet with the chopped tarragon and a pinch of salt. Make 9 small balls.
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350G.Add the dumplings to the stew and place the lid on the casserole dish and cook for 15 mins.Take the lid off and cook for another 15 mins to add some colour.Garnish with chopped chives or parsley.