That even my meat loving brothers will eat. This savoury roly-poly is made with suet pastry. Suet pastry is used to create savoury dishes like steak and kidney pudding and English puddings such as roly-poly and the renowned spotted dick.
Traditionally suet comes from beef cattle. It is the shredded deposit fat taken from around the internal organs of the animal. I know some people would rather not know this information and just be happy to eat what they are given without question, but I think it is important to know the source of some of our traditional ingredients. Suet remains a popular ingredient to this day. It is used quite a lot in making dumplings, especially during the autumnal and winter seasons. Suet dumplings are often added to warming casseroles or stews, where they are gently steamed and swell up double in size. Dumplings are often served in place of potatoes and bread.
Suet was not an ingredient my mother cooked with. I only began experimenting with it in my University years, when I discovered the vegetarian (also suitable for vegans) alternative made from: hydrogenated vegetable oil, wheat flour, sunflower oil and pectin. The suet itself looks like little white pellets dusted with the wheat flour to keep them apart. One of the first recipes I ever made with this suet was British celebrity chef Gary Rhodes mushroom and onion pudding; and early in the year I made Leek Savoury Puddings. I have to admit, I have never made a sweet jammy roly-poly. I know that will be remedied one of these days, but right now enjoy this savoury version.
This savoury roly-poly is filled with spinach and mushroom, and was served as part of a roast vegetarian dinner; and don't forget the compulsory gravy. For me this was a nice change from a vegetarian lentil loaf.
To end, some of you may know this, but for those of you who may not - Did you know that traditional beef suet was, and in some cases still remains one of the key ingredients of sweet mincemeat which is often made into Christmas Mincemeat Pies. So please do check the label this Christmas if making a purchase. Also, if you found it interesting to read about the traditional suet, you may also be interested in reading a little about the vegetarian 'black pudding'.
Mushroom and Spinach Roly- Poly
Serves 8 as part of a vegetarian roast dinner
For the Suet pastry
450g wholemeal plain flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoons salt
110g vegetable or vegan suet
300-350ml cold water
For the filling
3 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, crushed
400g chestnut mushrooms
150ml vegetable stock
350g fresh spinach, chopped
55g wholemeal flour
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix together the dry ingredients for the suet pastry. Add the water a bit at a time to form a fairly firm dough.
Heat olive oil and sauté the garlic and mushrooms. Add stock and cook until mushrooms are tender. Stir in the flour and season with lemon juice and salt and pepper. Cook until the sauce thickens. Roll out the pastry into a large rectangle. Spread the filling on it, almost to the edges, leaving ½ inch spare pastry all the way round. Brush the edges with cold water and roll up length ways, squeezing in the ends to keep in the filling. Place the roly-poly on a large baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven at gas mark 5 approximately 40 minutes. The pastry should begin to turn brown and be cooked thoroughly. Rest in a warm place for 10 minutes, then cut into slices. Adapted from The Stones Cookbook.