Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Indian Pudding: Maybe I'm a Yankee after all...
Some Southerners have an irritating habit of calling anyone "not from 'round here" a Yankee. To me, a Yankee is someone from the Northeast, so I don't believe I qualify. But if enjoying Indian Pudding makes me a Yankee, all righty then. Or should I say "yup."?
Alicia described the process of making this stuff so well that I don't need to add much. One thing that possibly made my Indian Pudding a bit better than average is that I used this fancy stone-ground corn meal. Upscale corn products--only in the South.
I had Julia photograph me pouring the milk over the porridge. That was kind of fun. And I baked sweet potatoes at the same time as the pudding. But you could also do some chicken broth or stew or chili or Julia Child's Boeuf Bourgignon if you felt like it, I believe. Three hours is a long time--in that time I wrote a blog entry, made dinner, ate dinner, cleaned up after dinner, had a long phone conversation, and probably a bunch of other stuff I can't remember. Fortunately we're having a spell of cool weather, so I didn't feel too guilty about leaving the oven on. Still, this would be much better as a cold-weather dessert.
Changes: I put a piece of vanilla bean in when I was cooking the cornmeal, because that's how I roll. Otherwise, by the book. And my cornmeal didn't stick to the pan. Maybe I didn't cook it long enough...
Verdict: I tried this the first time shortly after I had read Alicia's blog post, so that might have colored my reaction. I had it hot with hard sauce and vanilla ice cream, and I was ambivalent about it. I'm not so big on the milk crust, and the pudding had separated and suffered in its creaminess. Claire had a taste and asked if she could have some for breakfast the next day.
That's when the pudding really shone--straight from the fridge. The hard sauce wasn't all melty like it was with hot pudding, but the texture was nice and it tasted (tastes) good. The girls both had big bowls after school today. They hate raisins, true, but I found that the long cooking kind of melted the raisins and made them hard to really distinguish. Are you using golden raisins, Alicia? We all felt it tasted like something familiar. Claire said rice pudding and Julia said pumpkin pie. I think they're both right. Nothing wrong with either of those desserts!
I'm not so sure about the hard sauce. It's not as good as Granny's, or at least the consistency is different from the one I remember. The girls love it because "it tastes like frosting."
So anyway, if you're looking for a dessert that eats like breakfast but you can put brandy butter and vanilla ice cream on it, this is the dessert for you!
Here's what I made.
2 T. sugar
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. ginger
1/4 t. nutmeg--freshly grated, of course
1/4 t. salt
5 c. milk (I used whole. I wonder if you could go 2% or lower)
1/2 c. (2.5 oz.) cornmeal
1/4 vanilla bean, scraped (optional)
2 oz. (1/2 stick) butter
1 c. maple syrup (this is when it pays off to buy in bulk!)
1/2 c. (2.5 oz.) golden raisins
Mix together the sugar and spices in a little cup and set them aside. Microwave 3 cups of the milk until it's hot, about 3 minutes on medium-high power. In a large saucepan, mix together the cornmeal and 3/4 cups (cold) milk. You should have 1-1/4 c. cold milk lurking around still. Gradually add the hot milk to the cornmeal mixture, throw in the vanilla bean if you're so inclined, then put that over medium heat and stir it for a long time until it's somewhat thickened. Maida says 20 minutes, Alicia says 10, and I didn't keep track. Probably closer to 10. While that's cooking, preheat the oven to 350, grease a baking dish, and find a big pan you can put the baking dish in (for that water bath thing). I went ahead and put water in the big pan, even though that's technically cheating. I hate pouring boiling water into a dish in the hot oven. Go figure. But I digress. Take out the vanilla bean and throw your sugar mixture, butter, maple syrup, and raisins into the cornmeal mush. Mmmm...mush! Pour that into the greased baking dish. Then get out a big spoon and pour the milk over the spoon, as you move the spoon around, into the dish. You're basically trying to float the milk here. Then very carefully put the whole shebang into the oven and set a timer for 30 minutes. When that goes off, turn the oven down to 300 and go about your business for another 2-1/2 hours. During that time, take the other half stick of butter out of the fridge, because you'll want to make hard sauce:
1/2 stick (2 oz.) unsalted butter, softened
1 c. (4 oz.) powdered sugar
1/2 t. vanilla
1 T. cream
1-2 t. rum, bourbon, or brandy (I used Courvoisier. Don't tell Sami.)
Dump all this into a bowl and whip it with the electric mixer until it's fluffy and frosting-like. Try to restrain yourself from eating it.
OK, when the pudding comes out of the oven, I recommend waiting a long time before consumption. Maybe put it in the fridge overnight and have it for breakfast. After all, it's whole grain, dairy, and fruit!
Serves about 8, I think.