Bedfordshire Clangers

This is an early recipe. The origin of the name, always in the plural although one large roll was generally made, seems to be obscure. There are some odd names in Bedfordshire, some of which came from the lacemakers who were probably brought there by Catherine of Aragon.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb (½ kg) good stewing steak or lean pork, all skin and fat removed and cut into ½ inch (1 cm) dice
  • ¼ lb (120 g) ox kidney or 1 pig’s kidney, skinned, cored and cut into ¼ inch (0.5cm) dice
  • 1 large onion, very finely chopped
  • 1 lb (½ kg) suet crust
  • ½ cup (90 g) seedless raisins
  • 2 large cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut into ½ inch (1 cm) dice
  • Salt and pepper
  • Milk
  • Flour
  • Butter

Method

Clangers would warm, fill and sustain a farm worker on a cold winter’s day. They could be made very cheaply using scrag-end of mutton or ends of bacon and omitting the raisins which gave the dish its special character. Or, in a more prosperous family, Clangers could be made with good steak or pork and some of the appropriate kidney. The fruit in the crust is as good with the meat as red-currant jelly with mutton. The roll looks like a plum duff and when it is cut the meat is a surprise. A good brown gravy may be served separately.

Season all the meat with plenty of salt and pepper and mix with the onion.

Roll out the suet crust to about ¼ inch (0.5 cm) thick in a long oblong shape and divide it in two. On one piece sprinkle the raisins and lay the apple dice on top of them. Put the second piece of suet crust over, so that the apple and raisins are sandwiched, sprinkle with a little flour and gently roll out so that the fruit is well embedded in the crust.

Spread the seasoned meat and onion all over the suet crust except for about 1 inch (2.5 cm) at the ends and sides. Damp these edges with a little milk and roll up tightly, sealing all the meat inside. Press the ends well together. A few raisins should show through the crust.

Enclose the roll in buttered foil and then tie it in a cloth, which has been dusted with flour on the inside. Boil in water in a fish kettle or large saucepan for 3½ hours. Do not let the water go off the boil and replenish with more boiling water, when necessary. Lift out the Clanger, unwrap it and put on a flat dish in a moderate oven for 10 minutes to dry.

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