Comfort meals: ‘guilty pleasures’ of the chilling seasons. My Nan’s (-British word for Grandmother, if anyone was wondering) Bacon Roly-Poly is the ideal accompaniment to much loved mashed potatoes with gravy. Bacon Roly-Poly isn’t exactly something eaten on Christmas day or around that time, although it is a great way to use up any extra bacon and brussels sproats you may have brought for your Christmas Dinner. I wouldn’t say this dish is unique nor something generally associated with traditional British cuisine. It’s simply one of those classic dishes that my Nan continued to make and share even once my Mum left her parent’s home. Please be aware that the cooking time for this dish is prolonged in comparison to the preparation time.
- Plain flour
- Either bacon rashers, or unsmoked bacon slices.
- Salt, preferably ‘low’ salt.
- 1 small diced white onion.
- Dried mixed herbs.
- Leftover Brussels sproats are optional.
- Chopping board
- Vegetable knife
- A rolling pin
- Baking foil
- A large saucepan
- A glass chopping board or metal rack for cooling the roly-poly.
- Make the suet according to the guidelines on the packaging. You should ensure that you make the suet to a rollable, wrappable consistency.
- Once you have prepared the suet, use a floured rolling pin to flatten the suet into a rectangle of approximately half a centimetre in thickness. Set to one side.
- Diced the small white onion. Save for later use.
- Season the bacon with a little salt and dried mixed herbs.
- Return to the suet, laying it vertically. Place the bacon rashers or strips horizontally against the suet; starting from the top edge all the way to the bottom end. The entire sheet of suet should be covered with layer of bacon.
- Sprinkle the diced onions on top of the bacon. If you have any left over Brussels sproats you would like to use, now is the time to add them to the roly-poly. Shred the sproats and scatter them over the onion.
- Fold inwards the two longest sides of the suet sheet: these will be the ends of the roll keeping everything well contained. Don’t fold them all the way into the middle, just around 2cm per side.
- Now roll the bottom edge up toward the top edge. You should be rolling it just like a roulade: not too skinny like sausage.
- Wrap the Roly-Poly in baking foil. Ensure their are no gaps. You may use string to keep the foil tight.
- Fill a saucepan halfway with boiling water. Place the wrapped Roly-Poly into the water. The water should just about cover the roly-poly, rather than the saucepan being overfilled.
- Allow to steam in the water for 2 and a half hours. Carefully turning it over at 30 minute intervals.
- Once 2 and a half hours have past, remove the roly-poly with tongs and place it to rest for 15 minutes on a glass chopping board or metal rack.
- After the 15 minute cooling period unwrap the roly-poly out of the baking foil. Rest for a further 5 minutes before slicing into thick sections.
- Enjoy it on it’s own, with gravy, roasted vegetables or buttery mashed potatoes.
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