Thursday, 29 December 2011

Crofter's Christmas Pudding

It's Yule, so here is my Christmas pudding recipe. I know. It's late for Christmas 2011, but the idea is to make it for next year so that it has time to mature.

It starts with the most complicated part - the suet. In Scotland (infamous for its high-fat diet) you can buy shredded suet over the counter. Here you can't. So I start by buying three lambs' kidneys with their surrounding fat, and then pulling the fat (pure suet) out from the membranes, nerves and blood vessels around the kidney. (I fried and flambéed the kidneys for supper - delicious.) This fat is lamb suet - finer than the beef suet we buy in Scotland.

Then take one large bowl and throw in:

1500grams (yes, 1.5 kg) of dried fruit. I used Malaga raisins, Spanish figs, dried apricots and dates from Morocco.
1 apple, grated
Rind of 1 orange and 1 lemon, and the juice of the lemon
50g almonds, blanched, skinned and chopped up
50g-100g of candied fruits - I used pineapple, mango and papaya - chopped finely
300ml of dark beer
half a glass of whisky (no, I didn't use the Laphroaig; too good, for cooking.)

Stir and leave to stand for a couple of hours in a warm place, so that the fruit absorbs the alcohol...

Stir, for luck

Then mix:
Suet from 3 lamb kidneys, chopped up
120g wholemeal flour
0.5 teaspoon of baking powder
220g of white breadcrumbs
450g of sugar
Half a nutmeg, grated
6 cloves
Half a teaspoon of cinnamon (I grated mine from the bark)
Four eggs (Maran eggs, of course)

Stir all this lot together for as long as your arms will take it. You get a wish.

Now spoon into well-buttered bowls, and cover with a double layer of greaseproof paper and a folded tea towel. The string is always the fiddly bit, especially if you have had the cook's privilege of a glass of whisky as you go...

Now boil for eight (yes, 8) hours. Tricky to keep the pan topped up, but if you don't you'll get a congealed mass of carbonised pudding and broken glass in the bottom of your favourite pan...

Once cooked, this pudding will store well. Take off the greaseproof paper you used for cooking. Pierce all over with a skewer, and pour over your favourite whisky. Cover with fresh greaseproof paper and tie tightly down. Every 2-3 months, add more whisky. By next Christmas this pudding will be, er, mature. Cook for a couple of hours (really, to heat it through) and then serve, flaming. Cannae beat it.

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