Recipe #13: Duck, Carrot and Shallot Pasties

What is it?: A pasty of duck, carrots and shallots encased in a beef dripping rough puff pastry.

Occasion: A cold winter’s day

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I am getting into a bad habit: I bake, I post the photo on Facebook, I eat, and then I neglect the blog. The fact that I haven’t posted this week has been hanging over me, so I have taken some time, on a very dark Saturday afternoon whilst watching the rugby, to get up to date with this blog.  Last weekend, I decided to delve further into the ‘Supper’ section of Short & Sweet for a great savoury recipe for a cold Sunday afternoon. Recently I have been buying an awful lot of duck wraps, mostly from supermarkets and mostly awful (why can nobody make a decent duck wrap?!) so it was unsurprising that the duck, carrot and shallot pasties caught my eye.

These pasties are made with a pastry called ‘rough puff dripping crust’ which sounds thoroughly unappetising and contains a rather old-school ingredient I have long feared: beef dripping.  It always puts me in mind of that artery-clogging snack from the past – bread and dripping.  I know for many this is nostalgic, but growing up in the 1990s, it was never a part of my food history, so for me it just sounds grim.  I have made pastry with lard before (I have even made a cake with lard) but dripping has always frightened me.  Actually, for this recipe, I found it rather easy to use.  It was just tossed into the flour after the butter had been rubbed in, and that was pretty much the end of the involvement with it – after that it just became a part of the dough.  I understand why it is in this recipe as it gives the pastry a really crumbly texture and a wonderful savoury, almost meaty, flavour that complements the filling.  The pastry is rolled, folded and rested in the way of a usual rough-puff and then filled with the combination of the meat from roasted duck legs, shallots, carrots and potato.

The pastry is not quite as voluminous as usual puff pastry, but it is perfect for a pasty, and surprisingly easy to work with.  I made five decent-sizes pasties but could have easily made a sixth had I been a tad more economical with my cutting.  The filling was really tasty, but could have the potential to be bland if under-seasoned, so never skimp on the pepper.  Luckily, I remembered that the best Cornish pasties I had ever tried contained a lot of pepper, so I applied that principle here.  This pasty would be delicious with some plum sauce, or even hoisin sauce, on the side, but I found the perfect accompaniment in my 2012 Christmas chutney – a spiced plum chutney I made with a huge batch of delicious plums from Brockley Market some time ago.  I didn’t want to open them until Christmas, but I couldn’t resist this pairing. Heavenly.

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