This is a traditional Irish dish where the ciste on top of the pie is a large suet ‘dumpling’, rolled out and used as if it were a pie crust on a lamb stew. The ciste swells to cover the top, becoming fluffy, and when baked in the oven it become wonderfully golden-brown and crispy on the outside, and soft like a dumpling on the inside. Lamb Ciste is traditionally served by loosening the ciste with a knife being run around the edge, then it is cut into six wedges. Each person helps themselves to a portion of stew, ciste and lamb chop – serve with a delicious creamy potato champ.
Lamb Ciste Recipe
Serves 6 – you need a large oven-proof casserole dish or deep 1.5 litre pie dish.
for the pie filling
- 6 large lamb chops (trimmed of fat but bones left in)
- 300g minced lamb (lean)
- 3 lamb kidneys (250g) diced and rolled in the plain flour
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 2 medium onions (finely diced)
- 2 carrots (finely diced)
- 400ml beef stock
- 200ml red wine
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- 1 tablespoon chopped thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- freshly ground sea-salt and black pepper
- butter and vegetable oil (for frying)
for the Ciste
- 225g plain flour
- 115g shredded beef suet
- 120ml milk
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon sea-salt (ground)
- 1/2 tablespoon of finely chopped parsley
- softened butter for greasing a sheet of foil
to serve with
In a frying pan, over a medium-high heat, add a tablespoon of oil and one of butter – fry off two of the lamb chops at a time, browning them. Once browned add them to the bottom of a large oven proof casserole dish (or deep pie dish) – do the same for the rest of the lamb chops. Add a little more butter and oil and fry off the minced lamb in batches, once browned add each batch to the casserole dish. Do it in batches so as not to crowd the frying pan and cool the temperature. At the end deglaze the frying pan with 2 tablespoons of red wine, scrape the bits clear with a wooden spoon, then pour this into the casserole dish.
In the deglazed frying pan (now dried) add some butter and oil and fry off the onion, celery and carrots gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they soften and the onion colours lightly. Half way through add the chopped lamb’s kidney (diced and coated in the flour) and fry off. Once the kidney has browned add 2 tablespoons of red wine and the rest of the flour from coating the kidney’s, scrape any bits clear with a wooden spoon to deglaze and soak up the flour, stir, then pour this into the casserole dish. Season the casserole dish ingredients well with ground sea-salt and black pepper and cover everything in beef stock and red wine. Stirring it in.
Preheat the oven 160C
Put the lid on the casserole dish and cook in the oven at 160C for 1 hour.
Make the ciste: in a mixing bowl sift in the flour, and then scatter in the suet, baking powder, parsley and salt. With a wooden spoon bring this to a dough with the milk. It should be the consistency of pastry dough, so add a little more milk if it seems too thick. Put on to a floured board and gently roll out to the size of the top of the casserole dish or pie dish – it should be quite thick and it should fit in the dish to sit on the stew.
Take the casserole out of the oven, remove the lid – gently stir, taste and season. Place the ciste on top. Cover over the casserole dish with a sheet of foil you have generously buttered. Make sure the foil is tightly sealed around the edges of the dish, but loose enough above the pie filling to allow the ciste to expand and rise without sticking.
Turn the oven up to 180C
Put the covered casserole dish in the oven at 180C for a further 30 to 40 minutes – until the ciste is well risen and fully cooked through, then remove the foil, turn the oven up to 200C and put the dish back in the oven for another 10 minutes to brown the top of the ciste. Remove from the oven. Serve.
To serve: The Lamb Ciste is served by loosening the ciste with a knife (run it around the edge) then cut it into six wedges. Place the casserole dish on a trivet on the table and serve on to plates with some champ – each portion should consist of a wedge of ciste, a lamb chop, some kidney, gravy and vegetables.