A suet pudding is the essence of comfort food as it tastes as luscious as it looks. The filling can be made the day before and allowed to cool and then the pudding filled the next day. A great dish to cook ahead and it creates a real spectacle when you cut into it at the table.
1kg diced shoulder of venison
1 heaped teaspoon tomato purée
50g dried porcini mushrooms
½ litre brown chicken or venison stock
Some vegetable oil
20g baking powder
Pinch of salt
Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan. Season the cubes of venison and dust in the flour.
In a separate pan, add the porcini mushrooms to stock and bring to boil, then allow to simmer for 10 min.
Take half the venison and add to the pan sealing the meat well so that it colours on the outside. Once sealed, remove from the pan then re-heat the pan again, add the rest of the venison and repeat the above process. It is important to get good colour on the meat because this is what will determine the colour of your sauce. Remove the venison.
Melt some butter in same pan and add the finely chopped onion, sweat it for 3 min then add the venison and the tomato purée. Cook for another 2-3 min.
Stir in the hot stock with the porcini mushrooms so that all the flour dissolves and creates a sauce.
Bring the venison to boil, then simmer gently until meat is cooked, about 1½ hours then remove from the stove and allow to go cold.
To make pastry:
Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt, mix in the suet then make a well in centre.
Add water and mix lightly to make a soft sticky paste that comes away from the edge of the bowl. Remove about a quarter of the dough and keep covered to one side. This will be your lid.
Roll out the remains of the dough to a circle about 40cm diameter.
Butter a 1.75 litre (20cm) pudding mould and line it with pastry, allowing the pastry to be slightly higher than the top of the mould.
Roll out the dough you put to one side into a circle about 20cm diameter for the lid.
Fill the lined pudding bowl with the cold meat and mushroom mix.
Fit the lid onto the pie mix so it sits snugly, covering the mix, then brush all around the edges with cold water to form a seal, folding any excess pastry over the edge of the bowl, to seal the lid.
Cut a circular piece of greaseproof paper 3 times as large as the top of the pudding, butter the paper and form a pleat in the middle of it, then place on top of the pudding, folding the excess paper over the edge and tying a piece of string around it to keep it in place.
To cook, place a folded teatowel into a saucepan of boiling water then stand the mould on to it, so that the water comes ¾ of the way up the mould (the cloth will stop the bottom of the pudding burning).
Place a lid on the saucepan and simmer for 45 min, then remove from water, remove the paper lid and turn out.