16 August 2010

16 August - Saint Roch, Spotted Dog

A santo or bulto of Saint Roch from Puerto Rico
Today is the celebration of Saint Roch, patron of dogs, and invoked against pestilence and plague, and skin problems.  And what could be more appropriate for today than Spotted Dog?

This is a suet-based steamed pudding, and not for the faint of heart.  There are recipes online which make this dessert lighter in calories,  so if your heart misgives you, try one of them instead.

First make your dough.  Mix together 1 cup all-purpose flour, 2 cups dry stale bread crumbs, and 1/4 cup of sugar.

To this mixture add 1 cup finely ground or chopped suet, and mix well.

Then mix in 1 egg and (here is the tricky part) SUFFICIENT milk to make a workable dough.  This could be anything between 1/2 and 1 cup of milk.  I add it about 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, until the dough is reasonably stiff and can be rolled into shape.

Now, blend 1-1/2 cups each of currents,  sultana raisins, and white raisins into the dough (you can also roll out the dough into a rectangle approximately 8" x 12", and spread it with the fruit mixture.  Moisten the edges with a little water and roll it up, starting from the short end, to form a log).  I prefer to add the raisins directly to the dough, as this is what gives it the 'spotted' look.

You can soak the fruit in a few tablespoons of brandy or whiskey for about half an hour (or more) for a little added decadent flavor.  Add them (liquor and all) to the dough before stirring in the milk.

Now, roll the mixture into a sausage shape on a well-floured, damp cloth (or roll the sausage shape on waxed paper, so that the paper covers it  loosely, fold the paper ends under, and then roll up the wax-paper covered log in a damp cloth).  Securely tie the ends of the cloth closed with string.  Note: if boiling the pudding, do not use wax paper.

To cook by boiling: After tying the ends of the cloth, make a little handle out of another piece of string, securing each end to the tied ends.  Use this handle to carefully lower the pudding into boiling water.  There should be sufficient water in the pot so that the pudding can float.  Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid, and check to make sure the water doesn't boil away during cooking time, approximately 2 to 2-1/2 hours.  Remove the package from the pot using the string handle, allow the cloth to dry slightly, then unroll pudding.  Slice and serve warm with cream or a dessert sauce.

To cook by steaming (my preference): Place package in steamer, on top of boiling water, cover pot, and steam for 2 to 2-1/2 hours.  Check occasionally to make sure there is sufficient boiling water.

To bake: wrap in foil instead of wax paper or floured cloth, and bake in a 400 degree F. oven for 1-1/2 hours.

And what is left after that but to enjoy?