This is the third posting related to my holy trinity of meat-stuffed pastries – the Argentine empanada, the Australian Meat Pie and the Bedfordshire Clanger.
I hear your collective gasps, Citizens – just what the hell *IS* a Bedfordshire Clanger?
Put simply – it’s a very unique and little-known meat pie recipe from England, specifically (not surprisingly) the county of Bedfordshire which is nestled in the very beating heart of the country. For the record, I also dearly love Cornish Pasties, Melton Mowbray pie and a host of others classic English meat pie recipes – these will be featured in future posts. I want to highlight the humble Clanger as the least known, yet just as delicious alternative to these more well-known recipes, particularly since it includes dessert!
Bedfordshire is a bucolic and agrarian county (with the town of Luton now a center of the automotive and tech industry), and in centuries past many of the working husbands of the area used to toil in the fields there. Their wives, knowing their husbands would need lots of protein and carbohydrate sustenance, came up with the brilliant idea of a doubled, loaf-shaped pie. One end containing a savory filling that used the famed pork of the area while the other end was filled with stewed apples (made from the famed local apples) as dessert!
This was brilliant, an entire meal for the hard-working man – handheld, portable and delicious. Traditionally there was a secret code to denote which end was meat and which was dessert: two tiny holes on one end of the pastry top means meat, three knife slits on the other shows the sweet.
You can still find this as a local recipe in Bedfordshire, but it deserves to be far better known. Thus, I took it upon myself to come up with a TFD recipe worthy of our citizens and their enjoyment! It includes a few ingredients not found in the original, but I find the judicious addition of roasted onion jam, a dash of hot sauce, a bit of garlic and thyme livens up an already great flavor. I’ve also added some pears to the stewed apple and a touch of orange flavor as well.
Battle on – The Generalissimo
PS – as to why the name “Clanger” – in the nearby Northamptonshire dialect, ‘clang’ means to eat voraciously!
Recipe for Suet Crust Pastry
8 oz self raising flour
8 tbsp cold water
4 oz shredded beef suet
Pinch of salt
Recipe for Bedfordshire Clanger Savory Filling
1 small onion
1 clove minced garlic
2 tsp minced thyme leaves
1 tbsp Stonewall Kitchen roasted garlic and onion jam – buy it from Amazon (or use herb or some form of pepper jelly of your choice)
4 oz minced mild ham (you could substitute minced smoked turkey breast meat if you prefer)
A dash or two of hot sauce
a dash or two of Mushroom Ketchup (preferred) or Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp dried sage, rubbed between the palms
1 small potato
1 tbsp lard (substiture butter or oil if you prefer)
Salt and pepper to taste
Recipe for Bedfordshire Clanger Sweet Filling
1 Cameo or similar apple
1 Bosc or D’anjou pear
2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp raisins
1 tbsp grated orange zest
1 tsp lemon juice
Mix the suet and self raising flour well together with a pinch of salt then slowly blend in the water and mix together until a firm but soft dough consistency is achieved.
Turn onto a surface which has been dusted lightly with flour and knead gently until the pastry is smooth all over.
Allow to rest in the fridge for at least fifteen minutes before using.
Peel the potato and cut into small dice.
Put in a saucepan with water to cover, bring to the boil and cook for five minutes. Drain into a dish and put on one side for the moment.
Peel the onion and chop into small pieces, mince garlic.
Put the fat in the saucepan and gently sauté the onion until it becomes transparent but not brown, add garlic until just lightly colored.
Add the ham, stir well and cook gently for about 5 minutes.
Remove from the heat and stir in the cooked potatoes and sage. Stir in roasted onion/garlic or herb jelly, mushroom ketchup or Worcestershire, hot sauce and thyme. Season with salt and pepper to taste
Peel and core the apple and pear, then chop them into small pieces. Mix together in a bowl with the raisins, sugar, orange zest and lemon juice.
How to Construct a Bedfordshire Clanger
Ingredients (see above for quantities):
Suet crust pastry
Sweet apple/pear mixture
1 beaten egg
1 tbsp milk or water
Lightly dust a working surface, cut the suet crust pastry into equal halves and roll each piece out into an oblong about ¼ inch thick.
Cut a piece of the pastry from the shorter edge about ½ inch thick and roll into a sausage shape, keeping the length the same.
Use the rolls of pastry to make a wall to separate the two different fillings by putting the pastry rolls on each larger piece, about a third in from a shorter edge using milk to stick the pastry pieces together.
Divide the pork mixture between each piece of pastry, placing it on the larger side of the wall division.
Divide the apple mixture between each piece of pasty, placing it on the smaller side of the wall division.
Brush the edges of the pastry with the rest of the milk and carefully fold the pastry up, sealing the fillings.
Press the edges firmly so they stick together. Also press firmly down along the wall area so that the division is sealed.
Brush each clanger with the beaten egg and cook in a preheated oven at gas mark 7, 220 C, 425 F for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to gas mark 5, 190 C, 375 F for a further 30 minutes.
Serve hot or cold.