February 1, 2007
A traditional north east veggie dish that is dead cheap, tasty and filling. Recipes to follow, usually served with a meat stew but delicious with some braised red cabbage or chestnuts.
Leek and mushroom pudding
Leek puddings are the traditional accompaniment to stewed meat in the north east. Leek growing is as deep rooted in the culture of the area as football, enormous sums of money appear in small villages for the winner of the leek show, but be warned those enormous leeks will have been doused with horrendous things are not for eating. Even if they haven’t, a leek that is over 10cm in diameter would be so tough and stringy it will be of no culinary use. I have taken liberties with the original dish, which you can follow but it does produce rather dour results, so I have added mushrooms, and a little red wine to make a sauce inside the pudding.
For a pudding for a substantial main course for 5
A 2 pint metal or china bowl heavily greased
6oz self-rising flour
1tbls sage chopped fine
3oz veggie shredded suet
Enough water to make firm dough
5 large leeks, no wider than a cucumber, trimmed split washed and roughly chopped.
1lb mushrooms, button, field, chestnut or wild or a mixture cleaned and roughly disciplined with a knife.
1 glass of red wine, (if you can’t enjoy drinking it you cant cook with it)
A little flour
Salt, pepper and ground mace
Lea and Perrins or vegetarian Worcester sauce (it does exists) or mushroom ketchup
A large lump of butter about 1oz
Begin with the pudding basin, make sure it is clean and dry and free from any cracks, heavily grease the inside and the rim of the bowl with some the butter. Place to on e side. Now for the pastry. Place the flour, sage, salt and suet, in a bowl season veraciously with black pepper. Now stir with your hand to evenly distribute the ingredients. Start adding the water you will need about 5 tbls, but always add it a little at a time. You should end up with a firm and not sticky dough. Suet pastry requires no real skill to make and performs very well. Knead the dough to make it slightly more elastic. Shape it in to a round and remove 1/3 for a lid. Roll out the remainder to a rough circle twice the diameter of your chosen bowl, try to make it of an even thickness about ½ cm and quite thin, as it will rise on cooking a little. Now place the pastry in the prepared basin gently manoeuvring to fit the shape of the bowl, a lot easier than it sound as the pastry is very forgiving any holes can be mended with some of the over hanging pastry. For the lid roll out the remaining third to the same thickness and put to one side.
For the filling, place the leeks and mushrooms in a pot over a gentle heat with half the butter, allow to sweat till the mushrooms release there liquid then sprinkle in a little salt, a grind of pepper and couple of pinches of mace. Allow everything to get to know each other for a few more minutes. Now turn up the heat chucks in the red wine a long splash of Worchester sauce or equivalent allow boiling and reducing a little. Sprinkle in a little flour ½ or so and stir to combine add a splash of water, taste. This is dish of soothing qualities not brash flavours, but it should not be bland! When you are happy with the filling put it in to the lined pudding dish along with a further lump of butter, place the lid on top and crimp the edge to seal all the way round, using a little water if necessary to give a good seal. Now place cling film over the top of the pudding and place it in a pan large enough to hold it. Put an upturned metal plate on the bottom of the pan so the pudding bowl does not come in to contact with the pan. Fill the pan two thirds full of boiling water and place on a gentle heat allow to come to a gentle simmer, put on a lid and allow to tick away for 1-1/2 hours or until you are ready to eat. Do not boil dry! Half an hour either side won’t do any harm, steamed puddings remarkably well behaved. When ready to serve turn off the heat a take off the lid whilst you pre pare some green vegetables to go with your pudding, sprouts and chestnuts would be my choice, heavily anointed with butter and pepper. Upturn the pudding on to a plate it will come away easily, and serve it is allowing you to cut it at the table so the full steamy innards can be enjoyed to there max.