Saturday, December 05, 2009

Indian Pudding Redux

I posted this recipe a few years back(2007) but it is a cold raw day here in Atlanta and it always turns my thoughts to warm comfort food. This recipe takes a while and seeing as how the new Meryl Streep movie "Julie and Julia" is coming out on DVD next week (I loved it) I thought this recipe was a good one for all us dealing with the first snow of the season. (really not snowing anymore here in Atlanta and it is now 39F so I think we dodged it)

I am not sure how much this really has to do with "Native Americans" but I can imagine that when my ancestors were being saved from their folly by the natives they were offered some variation of a slowly cooked cornmeal dish made with suet and possibly dried fruit or berries. The "Indian" version was probably the result of just having corn mush cooked over an open fire for hours and sweetened with what was at hand.

This recipe is very old fashioned and today you find myriad variations. This one is basic and was first published in a cookbook by Lydia Maria Child, The American Frugal Housewife first published in 1829. I got this recipe from Julia Child's book Julia Child and Company published in 1979. Julia says they are from a different line of Childs.

This recipe makes about 6 cups of pudding and makes a simple but wonderful dessert with the addition of a little lightly sweetened whipped cream or even vanilla ice cream. Not too shabby with a traditional cooked English custard sauce either.

1/4 cup of corn meal (stone ground is best)
2 cups of cold milk (you can use low fat)
2 or 3 Tb of unsalted butter, lard or beef suet
1 tsp kosher or sea salt
2 tsp powdered ginger (make sure it is still fragrant)
1/2 cup of dark unsulphured molasses
1 tart apple, peeled, cored, coarsely grated (should be about a cup)
1 cup of additional milk

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Put the cornmeal in a heavy bottomed 2 quart sauce pan and gradually whisk in the 2 cups of milk. Put the pot over medium heat, add the butter, salt, ginger and molasses. Gradually bring to a boil stirring with the wire whisk to make sure it is nice and smooth. Once at the boil add the apple and then simmer for about 15 minutes more stirring frequently to keep it from scorching on the bottom. You should wind up with a think porridge like mixture.
Pour your pudding mixture in into a buttered 2 quart baking dish and set it uncovered in the middle of the hot oven and cook for 20 minutes or until it bubbles. Stir it and add 1/2 cup of the additional milk and blend it in. Clean the sides of the dish with a heat proof spatula and return the dish to the oven turning down the temperature to 250 degrees and cook it for another hour and a half to two hours. Remove from the oven and stir as before scraping down the sides as well. This time pour the additional 1/2 cup of milk over the top but don't stir it in. It is going to form a dark skin on the pudding as you cook it for another 3 or 4 hours.
This needs to be served warm so if you are not ready to serve it can be kept covered in a warm oven for a while.
Serve this thick brown sauce like dessert with the whipped cream, ice cream or custard. I imagine in the old days it was just served with some heavy cream and maybe some sugar.
You can make this ahead a day or two and just reheat in a water bath. This is earthy and elemental and a far cry from the sweet desserts we know today.

I know this seems like a long time from beginning to end but actual hands time on is small. This is slow food and you cannot get the same result by speeding up the process as many modern recipes try and do. This is way our ancestors cooked, trying to make the best out of some lowly ingredients. It is worth the trouble.

No comments: