Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Indian Pudding (first posted 11/02/06)

I'm reposting this because it is one of my favorite recipes, but also because HBO is running a series based on David McCullogh's brilliant biography of Adams. Adams was a politician to the bone. He knew how to play the game very well. Had he been a better liar we would be spending money with his visage on it.

This dish has a long and storied history in America. It was a favorite dish of my favorite of the Founding Fathers, John Adams. He had it for dessert at night and then reheated in the morning and served with cold milk. He also drank hard cider at every meal. There are no monuments to Adams, he knew that there most likely would not be and was bothered by that knowledge. Yet, he was instrumental in almost every single event in our early history. His ranting and railing at the Continental Congress was the stuff of legend. His outburst before his resolution on "independency" was brilliant stuff. He pointed out that King George had already declared the colonies to be in rebellion and that Congress had yet to do so. He, with remarkable self-awareness told Jefferson that he should be the writer of the Declaration because "I'm not half the writer you are, and besides, I'm obnoxious and disliked." I think I admire Adams most because of his human failings. I understand his single minded pursuit of excellence. I admire his fidelity and love of his wife and family. I am in awe of the courage it took for him to stand in the Court of St. James as the first Ambassador and be ignored. That he was able to rise above his frailties and truly achieve greatness was brilliant and courageous stuff. Would that we had politicians of that mettle now. Since we can't seem to find anyone that is willing to act like John Adams, at least we can eat like him. There are many variations to this dish. This recipe is from the lovely and strong Abigail. It is plain and simple. I will list some of the possible variations after the original has been presented. My kids adore this. When I would have it on the table they would, when they were little, exclaim "Indian Pudding! 'Cause we're Indians!" (the last words shouted at proper war whoop volumes) My stock reply was always to say "Indeed you are my darlings."


1 quart scalded milk
1/3 cup corn meal (she means yellow or yankee corn meal here)
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup molasses
1 good teaspoon ginger (slighty more than level will do nicely)

Scald the milk and strain through a sieve into a double boiler pan with the corn meal (milk skin is icky and I have discovered that tossing it to the dogs keeps them out from underfoot while I'm moving about the kitchen, they also manage a good floor cleanup while they're at it). Over rapidly boiling, salted water (there's some scientific principle about salting the water, it makes it go a little hotter or a little cooler I never can remember which one) mix together with the salt and cook, stirring often (you don't have to do this constantly but scorching and lumping are to be discouraged) for 20 to 25 minutes. You're looking for a thick, rich porridge here. Bubbles should bulge and hiss steam like Yellowstone mud pots and the granularity of the meal should be tenderized. Mix in the molasses (and I like to start with 3 tablespoons of good maple syrup then top off with a viscous dark blackstrap molasses to make 1/2 cup) and the ginger and transfer to a buttered soufflé dish (see that's not a totally single use item) or a sturdy baking dish and bake at 300° for about 2 hours. This is orgasmic if you serve it with a top flight vanilla ice cream.

Now, to variations. Dried fruit can be added without any changes at all. If you choose to add eggs, you will be making it more of a custard and will have to increase the milk proportionally. You might be tempted to add cinnamon or nutmeg or a dose of brown, white or maple sugar. Resist these foolish thoughts! Think of John Adams scowling at you for putting on airs! Molasses and ginger were huge treats at a colonial New England table. Cinnamon and nutmeg were only available through the same East India Tea Company bastards that were fouling up a pretty good system, while ginger could be smuggled easily by good neighbors like Hancock through New Orleans from the Islands. Show your solidarity with our Founders, eat some Indian Pudding, drink some hard cider and imagine Patrick Henry and Thomas Paine taking turns bitch slapping our current President while John Adams, Sam Adams, Paul Revere, John Jay, Jefferson and a handsome young Hamilton smoked their pipes and offered technical advice.

crosspudding at 3B's


Anonymous Anonymous said...

while ginger could be smuggled easily by good neighbors like Hancock through New Orleans from the Islands

Hancock's merchant house (or one of them if he had more than one) still stands at Long Wharf. Now it houses a decent seafood restaurant.

3:01 PM  
Blogger Sherry Pasquarello said...

this is something i've always wanted to try and never got around to. maybe now i'll move my tush and do it.

oh, i made the bread. thank you, thank you. best recipe for it i've ever done. i just couldn't let it sit til tomorrow tho. i do have some left so i'll have it and see how it mellowed.

the other recipes never said to hurry. 1 even said to let the bread sit for 10 minutes before baking and none said to sift the flour.

3:14 PM  
Blogger Brave Sir Robin said...

I like this post.

A lot.

3:36 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Off subject, but thank you verrrrryyyy much for the truffles.

4:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love love love this story with my whole black heart. It thrills me to imagine your quartet of children so happy to be themselves. And pudding!

I have a distant memory of an Indian pudding recipe my mother brought from Cape Cod.

5:52 PM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

it was always one of my favorite things associated with this recipe. it developed into it's own little ritual. i'd bring it out, they'd whoop and holler, i'd call them my darlings and we'd dig in.

it made it taste even better.

7:59 AM  
Blogger Angry Ballerina said...

hey fucker,
click over to my blog, i soooooooo tagged your ass.


6:01 PM  

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