This is going to be a long post. So get a cup of tea, and make yourself comfortable before you start reading. Alternatively, you could just scroll down to the pictures of the pudding and start drooling.
Today’s lunch was the “Welcoming January Lunch for 6”, from the Weekend Lunch chapter. Now that I’m not working at the restaurant anymore, my weekend lunches can actually be made on the weekend!
79. Braised Pheasant with Mushroom and Bacon (Cooking in Advance)
80. Pig’s Bum (Weekend Lunch)
81. Real Custard (Basics etc.)
Yesterday we had a fab day shopping at the Prahran Market, where I actually managed to find pheasant! It was a whopping $21 a kilo, so for three birds it came up to $75. YIKES. I also bought baby onions at the market. I got my bacon from Rendinas Butchery, and the rest of the stuff from Safeway. And yesterday afternoon, I got cooking!
Ingredients - bacon, flour, bouquet garni, pheassant pieces, red wine, chicken stock, mushrooms, garlic and baby onions.
Making this stew is nothing too taxing; it’s similar to all the other stews in the book. Brown the meat, cook the mushrooms, then the onions, then the bacon. Add some flour, then wine and stock, before piling all the ingredients back into the pot, and baking for an hour or so. I had some issues getting everything to fit in the pot, and not all the bird was covered with liquid – which I think is why it turned out a bit tough.
After it cooked, I had a look at it, and I could barely see any sauce because it was covered in a thick layer of oil. So I stashed it in the fridge overnight, with the aim of scraping it off the next day.
This morning, when I started cooking, the first thing I did was start on the pudding. Nigella made up the recipe from a description that this Antony Worral Thompson bloke gave a steamed pudding he’d had at school, which he’d nicknamed Pig’s Bum. It is a rhubarb pudding, one of those traditional steamed English pudding-type things that you keep hearing about from Delia, and in Harry Potter and Malory Towers, but never actually bother making. (Well, I’ve never made one before). You make the batter in a processor, with the ingredients and proportions the same as a Victoria Sponge, and add 5 tablespoons of rhubarb puree (3 sticks, boiled in water and sugar for about 5 minutes). It turns this bizarre pallid purple shade. But Nigella’s right, the raw mixture does taste GOOD.
Mixture in pudding basin.
I actually didn’t have to go out and buy a pudding basin – I bought a Baker’s Secret 2L pudding basin a couple of years ago, with the intention of making Christmas pudding. The Christmas pudding never materialized, and the basin’s been sitting sadly in my drawer since then. It’s non-stick, and has this fab tight-fitting lid, so there’s no need to faff around with foil or string or such stuff. (I did butter the tin though, as I definitely did not want it to stick).
Pudding Basin in pot
It needs to boil for two and a half hours. In the meantime, I had a shower and then got on with the rest of lunch.
Back to the pheasant. Here’s what it looked like when I took it out of the fridge and opened it…
Me: Aw yes! Solid Fat!
A weird thing to yell out, don’t you think? Anyway, I scraped as much as I could off and into a bowl. Have a look.
Then it went in the oven to reheat, at 180C, for half an hour. In this time, I made some burghal to go with. It just needs to be cooked like rice, that is to say, the absorption method. You stir the wheat through some melted butter in a pan, pour over an equal volume of water, let it boil, cover it tightly and let it cook on a low heat for 30 minutes. Or in my case, until I could smell it burning on the bottom of the pan, at which point I turned off the heat.
So, whilst the pudding was in the steamer, the pheasant was in the oven, and the burghal was on the hob, I made the custard! (Yes, three pans on the hob at once – I am crazy). I did get a nice steam-facial from the pudding pot, though. Ah, I love making custard now – I’ve got the hang of it! I don’t even need to consult the recipe (Real Custard from the Basics etc. chapter) any more. I scaled down the quantities – 300ml cream instead of 500ml. In the wide pot that I used, it thickened quickly and easily, and got even more voluptuously creamy as it cooled in the sink. FYI, you get 300ml custard from 300ml cream. I know because I poured my custard into a measuring jug to serve it.
Lunch! The pheasant – tasted OK. We wouldn’t rave about it. In fact, we were all surprisingly silent eating it. The taste of the gravy was nice, but the birds were a bit dry. Also, the gravy was well thin. The bulghar was a great touch though, a good change from rice or mashed potatoes, and not as stodgy.
Braised Pheasant - Bulgar in the background
Daniel: I might have some of this for dinner. This stuff’s good…pointing at bulghar. And thanks for breaking the no-bacon thing.
By the way, I was a bit nonplussed by the bacon. It’s been over six years since I’ve knowingly eaten any pork product. It wasn’t good, it wasn’t crap. No big deal. But actually, I did feel slightly nauseous straight after the meal as we were cleaning up together and waiting for the pudding to cook, but I danced it off listening to Junior Senior. I can’t say that I’d be desperate for a ham sandwich or some crackling anytime soon.
Now we get to the good part – PUDDING!
Pig's Bum and Custard - I actually thought about serving it with the Rhubarb Ice-cream I made last night, but I was informed by my friend in England that it would be a crime to have a steamed pudding without custard.
This pudding is absolutely amazing! The silence that descended during lunch suddenly lifted…
Daniel: This smells great! I want to eat it. Hurry up with the photos.
Me: This doesn’t really look like a pig’s bum
Daniel: Yes it does, look at the shape. Pat it.
One portion of Pig's Bum
I can't tell you how lovely this pudding was. Whilst it was cooking, all steamy and clattery, I couldn't help but think, "Oh god, really, who could be arsed to make puddings like this?", but once you take a bite of the hot and fragrant pudding, drowned in the cold custard, it all makes perfect, delicious sense.
Daniel: This is fantastic. This is the shit. You should sell this.
Mum and Dad also agreed. Whilst we were eating, my dad's friend Bill popped by, and we gave him a piece. "No custard thanks, I'm not a custard fan". Despite the protestations of my family, "But she made it from scratch! It's good!", he still declined. He ate his first piece of pudding, and loved it so much that he asked for another piece. "You know what, that piece was so good I might have some custard with my second piece." Score!
Look at that custard! Damn straight I can make custard now!
This is a seriously good recipe.