Advertisement
News

Plum pudding has no plums, and what it does have is odd

Christmas will soon be here. While watching "Scrooge," I noticed that they talk about plum pudding. What is it and how is it made?

The weird thing about plum pudding is that it doesn't have any plums in it.

Advertisement

Traditional English plum pudding is made with raisins, currants and (believe it or not) suet -- that's the solid white fat surrounding the kidneys and loins of animals like cattle and sheep, in case you didn't know.

If you really want to make traditional plum pudding and can't find suet, try substituting lard or shortening.

Advertisement

Scrooge's Traditional Christmas Pudding

1/2 pound chopped suet

1 pound raisins

1/2 pound currants

1/2 pound chopped orange peel

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup bread crumbs

1/8 teaspoon each of mace, cinnamon and nutmeg

Advertisement

1 cup brown sugar

4 eggs, beaten

Mix the suet, fruit and orange peel, and dredge with some of the flour. Set aside. Mix together the remaining flour, crumbs, spices and sugar, then add the well-beaten eggs. Stir the fruit and suet into this mixture and thoroughly combine. Pour into a greased ring mold.

Traditionally, the pudding would be dropped into a kettle of boiling water and boiled for 5 to 7 hours. You can also place the mold in a water bath in a large pot (with water that reaches the rim of the mold), cover and steam the pudding for 4 to 5 hours -- replenishing the water as needed. Serve with caramel sauce or hard sauce.

I recall watching the Food Network, and [chef] Emeril [Lagasse] was making what most people I know call a "Turducken." This is a turkey that has duck and chicken in the stuffing. Is there any way that you can send me the recipe, as I've been tasked with this for our office holiday potluck meal?

Doesn't the fact that there is something actually called a "turducken" offer proof that sometimes men consume too much alcohol? I can definitely picture it now -- a bunch of guys get together to watch a game. In the interest of marital bliss, they send their wives to the mall and tell them dinner will be ready after the final score.

Advertisement

Only after numerous six-packs and three big bags of Doritos does the idea of cooking occur to them, and they check the refrigerator. Guy No. 1 says, "Hey, let's stuff this chicken." And then Guy No. 2, who has had one more beer than Guy No. 1, says, "Yeah, then after we stuff the chicken, we can stuff it into that duck!"

"I've got a great idea," says the host. "We'll stuff all of that into that big turkey! Won't the girls be surprised?" And thus the turducken was born.

You don't really need a recipe. This really just involves basic logistics. All you need is a 20-pound turkey, a four-pound duck, a three-pound chicken and your favorite sausage or cornbread stuffing. They key is deboning the birds. Try to have a butcher do it for you. If that's not possible, refer to a good cooking manual (like Joy of Cooking) for the deboning technique.

After the birds are deboned, first lay the turkey out on a flat surface, breast side down. Spread some stuffing over the turkey in an even layer about 3/4 -inch thick. Season with salt and pepper. Place the deboned duck inside the turkey and repeat the stuffing layer. Do the same thing with the chicken. Have someone help you lift the sides of the birds together to close as much as possible, then tie the turducken up with butcher's twine, using as many loops as necessary.

Now for the time-consuming part. Roast the turducken in a preheated 190-degree oven until a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees -- about 10 to 12 hours.

Jim Coleman is executive chef at the Rittenhouse Hotel in Philadelphia, a cookbook author and host of television and radio cooking shows.


Advertisement