We’re going to have a Dicken’s Christmas this year. I’m roasting a goose, and I’m serving Christmas Plum Pudding with Hard Sauce for dessert. The journey to this pudding has been long and interesting.
Getting suet was difficult. Why? Because most people don’t buy suet, so it’s hard to come by. What is suet you ask? Suet is the hard fat around the kidney of a cow or sheep. Suet has a high burning point, so it’s perfect for making such things as Christmas pudding and mincemeat.
I had mincemeat pie that was made with suet, and it is truly superior to that which does not have it. So many people said “Ew!” to suet that manufacturers removed it from the ingredients, thereby producing a far inferior product. It’s been so vilified that younger butchers don’t even know what it is.
I finally found a butcher who had it and asked my friend to pick it up for me, as he was closer to the butcher shop. He brought me this mass of fat, and I put it in the refrigerator. So, today, I started making the pudding.
I decided to use a recipe from Housekeeping in Old Virginia. I used a combination of various recipes. They all had the same thing in common, equal amounts of bread, suet, eggs, brown sugar, and raisins. This was some true eyeballing.
The recipe for Christmas Pudding with Hard Sauce is below, but you will want to read the procedure before tackling it yourself.
The first thing to deal with was the suet. Suet has a sinew that has to be removed. So, I separated the sinew from the fat and put the fat aside. Then, I used my rotary grater and grated the suet finely until all the solid pieces were done.
Then I had a nice bowl of grated suet. This was going to be my benchmark for the remaining ingredients.
I beat the eggs slightly in the stand mixer, then added the brown sugar and spices, and beat it again. Then I added the breadcrumbs and some whiskey. I mixed it and realized I did not have enough breadcrumbs, so I processed some more bread in the food processor. I used a loaf of stale bread.
Then I knew I had to do the rest by hand. I added the suet, raisins, and candied fruit peel. You have to be strong to do this, it’s very heavy, but you would not want to use the stand mixer to mix it. Use a wooden spoon.
To make this pudding pretty, you should use a nice metal pudding mold. They are available at Sur La Table for about twenty dollars. It’s well worth the money if you want a nice presentation.
It’s important to grease the mold so the pudding does not stick. I used butter and spread it around nicely with my fingers.
After I filled the pudding mold, I still had a lot of the mixture leftover. What to do? What to do! I got a medium-sized metal bowl, put the rest of the mixture in it, covered it with foil, then used butcher’s twine to secure it. It will make a nice pudding, but not as nice looking at the one in the mold.
I have a small four-quart Nesco that I used to steam the pudding. It’s a lot easier to use the Nesco than having to monitor a pot of water on the stove. Not only that, the Nesco has a convenient rack.
Preheat the Nesco to 400 whilst bringing about 4 quarts of water to a simmer. When the cook well is hot enough, put in the cooking well. Put the rack in the cooking well in the rack, and set the pudding on top of the rack. Pour water so it goes up to about an inch on the mold. Cover the mold and let it cook for about 4 hours – replenish the hot water as needed.
Let’s Make Steamed Christmas Plum Pudding with Hard Sauce
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter
- 1/2 box powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon whiskey
- Beat the eggs. Add the sugar, spices, and whiskey. Mix together well.
- Add half of the breadcrumbs, and mix. Keep on adding breadcrumbs until you have a consistency a little moister than stuffing.
- Add the suet and raisins. Mix well. If you still need more breadcrumbs, add them now.
- Add the citron and mix well.
- Put water in a four-quart saucepan and set it to boil. if you are using a 4-6 quart Nesco, preheat it to 400.
- If you have a metal steamer, then fill it with the mixture. Otherwise, fill a medium-sized metal bowl with the mixture. Top with foil and secure with butcher’s twine.
- If you don’t have a Nesco, then use a large stockpot with a pasta insert. If you don’t have that, then use a large stockpot, and put a cleaned out tuna can upside down to hold the pudding.
- Put the pudding on the rack, and fill the vessel one inch up the pudding with the hot water.
- If you are not using the Nesco, put the flame on low. You don’t want it to boil away too fast.
- Check the water level every hour, replenishing with hot water as needed. Steam for 4 hours.
- Remove from the heat and let sit at least 15 minutes before serving. Best to wait at least 24 hours. Store your pudding in a dark, cool place. Under a bed, in an unheated bedroom is best.
- Beat the sugar, whiskey and powdered sugar together. Chill.
- To serve your pudding, put it on a nice flame retardant plate, preferably glass.
- Put the hard sauce in a nice serving bowl.
- Have ready a match. Also have ready a large metal bowl, larger than the pudding and platter.
- Present the pudding by lighting it with the match. It should only flame for a few seconds. If it does not, you may suffocate the flames with the large bowl.
- Encourage guests to have a little hard sauce with their pudding and enjoy!
All the ingredients here are approximate. This is a real "eyeball it" recipe. Basically, you want to have the same amount of suet, eggs, and sugar. Just add enough breadcrumbs to come up with a stuffing like consistency. Although it may seem complicated, this is actually a very simple dessert to make.
You may use brandy instead of whiskey. You may also use all citron instead of the mix. You may add nuts if desired.