Ok, I thought I was pretty knowledgeable about baking and cooking but I was humbled today. It was cold and windy here in Ireland and I felt like making a big pot of chicken stew with dumplings - but I wanted a new recipe to try. So, I let my fingers do the searching and quickly found one. Chicken Stew with Herb Dumplings (below) fit the bill. Looking over the recipe, I noticed one strange ingredient called "suet". What on earth is suet?!

Off I went to the store to buy ingredients and track down the mysterious suet. I was somewhat consoled by the fact that the store staff didn't know what suet was and felt even better when they couldn't find it! After much searching, I eventually did find shredded suet. And away I went to make my stew. If you're dying to know about suet, read on....

Traditional suet is the dense fat which surrounds beef kidneys now very hard to obtain in its natural form as many butchers no longer get the kidneys in tact.

Be that as it may, the type of suet most recipes call for is shredded. Suet is a traditional ingredient used for both sweet and savoury steamed puddings and is used in the making of mincemeat. It is also sometimes used to feed birds!

Because suet has a high melting point, it serves to keep the structure of pastries even after the dough has begun to set, leaving hundreds of tiny air holes. The result is a light and smoothly textured pastry, whether baked or steamed. When butter or margarine is substituted for suet, the results are often much heavier and greasy. Suet does not have any meaty taste it just imparts a rich flavour, so is suitable for both savoury and sweet dishes.
Read about suet to your heart's content.

The stew was very tasty...Especially the dumplings! The suet make them lighter
and provided a depth of flavor. Instead of using plain water to mix with
the flour to make the dumplings, I used a little chicken stock - an easy thing
to do to enhance flavor.

Chicken Stew with Herb Dumplings

4 large chicken thighs
1 tsp olive oil
2 medium sweet potatoes, cut into chunks
1 450g pack of prepared soup vegetables (carrot, leek, swede)
boiling water for chicken stock
chicken stock cubes (or 400 ml of your own chicken stock)

for the dumplings ...

125 g self rising flour
50 g suet
salt and freshly ground pepper
water or chicken stock


  • Preheat oven to Gas Mark 6 (400 degrees F.)
  • Heat oil in a large ovenproof casserole dish and cook the chicken on the stovetop for five minutes or until golden brown all over. Remove chicken and set aside.
  • Add vegetables to the dish and cook until soft, but not colored. Return chicken to the dish with the vegetables.
  • Make 400 ml of chicken stock with the boiling water. Add prepared stock (or your own stock) to the casserole dish. Cover the dish and place in pre-heated oven. Cook for 40 minutes or until chicken is thoroughly cooked.
  • To make the dumplings, mix flour, suet, salt, pepper and parsely and add enough water (or chicken stock) to make the dough elastic, but not sticky. With floured hands, roll the mixture into eight balls. Twenty-five minutes before the casserole is finished, add the dumplings and continue to cook the casserole.

I served this meal with toasted french bread. Enjoy!


Suzer said...

Ooh, a blog about recipes. I could get into this. I always wondered what suet was as well. Thanks for sharing;)


Stephanie said...

I've recently discovered vegetarian suet out there, as well as vegetarian renet! What will they think of next...