Sunday, October 27

Bacon, Sage & Onion Suet Pudding

I went to visit my mum this weekend and she surprised me by serving this suet pudding for supper. She has been cooking this the whole of my life and yet it had completely fallen out of memory. It gots me thinking that I had never before cooked this dish, nor had I seen this pudding anywhere except on my mum's dining table. Does this make it a family heirloom?  Can suet based food become an heirloom? Tough questions indeed, but to ensure this dish is preserved for the nation (quite literally tens of people will read this post!) I'm going to immortalise it on my humble blog.

Cheap to make, slow to will feed three to four. Be warned, it's a rib sticker and laden with fat. It is however bloody tasty and a real blast of proper English cold weather cooking. You will need a big pan to cook this dish - we used a fish kettle but if you have a roasting tin 4 inches deep, you could probably improvise.....oh and you will also need a large muslin cloth and some string.

250g plain flour plus more for rolling
125g beef suet
1/2 tsp salt
250g quality dry cure streaky bacon
1 large spanish onion - peeled and finely chopped
A knob of butter
A good handful of fresh sage, leaves only

Roughly chop the bacon and gently fry until starting to crisp and colour. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside. In the same pan with the knob of butter, fry the onion until soft and golden. Mix the onion, bacon and sage together and add a good grind of black pepper. 

Fill your cooking vessel with water and bring to the boil.

Mix the suet, flour and salt together in a large bowl and add just enough water to make a soft dough. Roll into a rough rectangle on a floured board until 0.5cm thick. Spread the bacon and onion mix evenly over the pastry leaving a 1 inch margin all around. Wet the edges of the pastry with water and roll up the pudding like a swiss roll taking care to seal the long edge and the ends. You should end up with a giant anaemic looking sausage roll fully containing the bacon filling. Holes will let in water so make sure the pastry is really well sealed.

Carefully roll the pudding in the muslin, twist the ends and tie with string. Carefully drop into the boiling water, cover with a lid or foil and simmer gently for 2 hours making sure the pudding is fully and constantly submerged. Top up the water periodically if needed. 

After the cooking, gently remove the pudding by holding the ends of the muslin and allow to rest on a baking rack for 5 mins - this allows excess water to steam/drain away. Unwrap, slice and serve with onion gravy, proper mushy peas made with dried split peas and buttery mash.