Oh, my god. Did I just make Hot Pockets? That's crazy. I don't think I've ever even had one. I just remember that comedian saying "Hot Pockets" in a high voice and it made me laugh. Well, Hot Pockets weren't the original idea. They were born of pasties (not the ones for nipples, people!). Little pockets of pastry filled with savory goodies, like meat and cheese. I think most cultures have them. In this instance it was ham and monterey jack cheese. And the pastry dough? Made from grass-fed local suet, baby. Yes, it's not just for tallow anymore, folks! Actually, it never was, but that's besides the point.
I'm super excited about this because I haven't had or made such an incredibly tasty pastry dough in a long time. Or maybe since I made pop tarts...Anyway, when I went in on a split of a steer I was offered some suet and not one to turn down anything free and vaguely edible, I accepted. It took me a while to get to it, but it all came together the other day.
I based my recipe on the Beyond Nose to Tail cookbook and this recipe from Epicurious. The dough was very dry and crumbly, maybe because I used the suet straight from the freezer. To prepare the suet, which by the way, is the thick, hard fat that surrounds the kidneys of a cow, I picked through it and removed what little bits of meat I could find. Then I put it in the food processor and pulsed it to a consistency like coarse cornmeal.
Suet Pastry Dough
1 1/2 cups of flour
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of cold, finely chopped beef suet (I used a little extra)
1/4 to 1/2 cup of cold water
Combine all the ingredients, holding the water. Then, add the water 1/4 cup at a time, slowly, until you get the desired pastry dough consistency. After the dough is formed, let it sit, covered in wax paper, in the fridge for up to two hours. Let it come to room temperature before rolling.
My dough was very tough to work. It isn't, in my limited experience with suet pastry dough, very elastic dough. I used a large circular lid I had to press out circles. I didn't roll them very thin. I filled them with chopped ham and grated cheese---about 2 cups of ham mixed with a cup of cheese. I didn't add anything else! Bake these in a 375 degree oven for about thirty minutes, until light golden brown. They were stellar right out of the oven. This recipe made eight large pastries that will probably disappear by the next morning.