A speciality of England, this is cooking fat made from beef or mutton that is obtained from the area around the kidney and loins. Widely used until the mid-twentieth century, it is less popular now. It is prized for giving food a distinctive lightness, and a rich but unobtrusive flavour.
Rarely available in its natural form, suet is mixed with flour and sold in supermarkets in cream-coloured blocks. A vegetarian suet made from palm oil and rice flour is also available, but it gives slightly different results.
Keep refrigerated, and use within a few days of purchase.
Suet is used in traditional boiled, steamed or baked savoury and sweet puddings, such as steak and kidney pudding, spotted dick and jam roly-poly. It is also used to make soft-textured pastry, dumplings, haggis, mincemeat, Christmas pudding, and a rendered fat called tallow. Grate coarsely before use.
Article by Sejal Sukhadwala
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