Naturally, I put it off as long as possible but, in the end, I began calling around looking for suet. Suet, in case you don't know, is fat. But not just any fat. It's the fat from around the kidneys of a cow or sheep. This fat has a waxiness that makes things really tasty. It's the same fat McDonald's used to use to fry their french fries. And, in case you don't know, it's REALLY hard to find. Strangely. Because it isn't as if there aren't plenty of cows providing all those neatly wrapped packages of pink flesh. But, since people don't really use suet much anymore, it just gets thrown away. But you don't need to hear all of this. After a week's worth of phone calls and wrangling with a local butcher, I got my suet. My butcher even shredded it for me. So nice! Once I got the suet home I melted it in a pot over low heat. Then I poured it through some cheesecloth to catch all the yucky kidney bits into a bowl and refrigerated it. The next day it had hardened into a snowy white mass.Now I had decided to make a traditional filled pudding, not a sponge pudding. In fact I was making a Steak (and no Kidney) Pudding. I found a recipe for the filling in a Nigella Lawson cookbook and precooked the filling. I fiddled with her recipe a bit, adding cornstarch to thicken the gravy and fresh thyme to brighten the flavors. I cooled the filling in the refrigerator so it wouldn't melt my suet crust when I assembled the pudding.
Once the filling was cooled, I pulled out my suet and weighed out six ounces. I cut this into a mixture of flour, baking powder, salt and pepper, just like a pie dough. Then I added about 1/3 cup cold water slowly by spoonfuls until it just came together. It made a very soft and weak dough so I had to be very careful as I rolled it out and draped it in a buttered bowl. I scooped the cool filling into the pastry-lined bowl and topped it with a small round of the dough, rolling and pinching the edges together to seal it. Then I buttered and pleated a piece of foil, wrapped the top of the bowl and tied a string around it. I lowered the bowl into a pot about half full of boiling water, using a crumpled piece of foil at the bottom to prop it up off the heat. Oops! My pot of water was a little too full! I searched around for my turkey baster to suck out some of the water but couldn't find it. Oh well. Too late. I figured, if the water was going to get in, it already had. Two hours later (and a few additions of hot water) I pulled the pudding out. Tah-dah!
Here's the surprise. It was really good!!!! We had guests for dinner and all devoured it. Even my six-year-old ate some! I'm not sure I'd ever do this again but it was a great learning experience and I'm really proud that I pulled it off. Thanks for another great challenge, Daring Bakers. To find out more about the challenge, get recipes or to sign up to be a Daring Baker yourself check out the website . . . at the Daring Kitchen.