I’m fairly sure we've all done it. You know……all sing – loudly and proudly – “Now bring us some piggy pudding, and bring some right here!”
I know I have. It took me FOREVER to realize the lyrics were “FIGGY” pudding. But I didn't care, even once I found out. We are creatures of habit, and it still comes out piggy pudding when I sing it. Either way, when you consider it, neither one sounds very appetizing, now does it?
I've always loved cooking, but in the last few years I've really become what is socially referred to as a “foodie”; not just loving the adventure of cookery, but also feeling my palette mature and craving truly good fare and not processed or fast stand-ins; and also really honing in on the craft of preparing stunning and delicious food.
(Now stay with me. You may think you know where I’m going with this, but you won’t have seen this one coming.)
So of course, as time progressed and so did my culinary skills, I was greatly interested in researching and getting to the bottom of how figgy pudding came to be, what was in it, how to prepare it, and then – to delight in it – if it was warranted. It IS called, FIGGY PUDDING, after all. Just say it. What picture comes into your head? For me, it was a brown, gelatinous, squishy-sounding goo that I was certain only paupers and beggars had to eat back in the days of yore. Well, though the thought intrigued me, it certainly didn't sound appetizing!
In doing this research of sorts, I discovered it dated back to the 16th century and consisted of mashed figs, thickened with bread, and then crème-boiled into a custard. That actually sounded pretty good. Like bread and fig jam! YUM. Well, if you know me, you know I typically don’t stick to a recipe. It’s a sickness. And I definitely CAN’T quit any time I want. Seeing several modern-day recipes consisting of butter, molasses, cinnamon, nutmeg, and figs, I thought, “I bet I could make this into a pie.” To which I did. And it was … DELICIOUS! I candied some walnuts and put them on top and it was one of the most delectable Christmas treasures I had ever created.
But wait!! There’s more…
Last year, I decided to make figgy pudding pie again, and was singing the song over and over again (we all know when a song gets stuck, it’s STUCK!); but alas, I found myself singing about piggy pudding again. Maybe I wasn't giving figgy pudding the respect it was due. It was, after all, being prepared in my kitchen again because it was so good.
And then it hit me. Piggy Pudding. (I don’t even WANT to know the vision you get when you hear THAT) I thought of all the ingredients in the figgy pudding pie I had made. I then thought about pork, which led me to think about mincemeat pie: it has apples, raisins, and sometimes, pork or roast beef, and it is YUM. Why not figs instead? What about pulled pork, figs, butter, cinnamon, and nutmeg DIDN'T sound good?
And so it came to be. Piggy Pudding. It’s legit. Sing it loud and proud.
I wish you a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.
Piggy Pudding Pie
- 1 ½ cups pulled or shredded pork (pork is a rare treat in my house, so when I do make it, I use only organic, nitrate free, hormone-free, uncured pork)
- ½ stick of butter
- ½ cup of molasses
- About 2 cups figs, stems removed and finely chopped (you can substitute dried, but make sure they are un-sweetened to avoid processed and extra un-necessary sugar)
- Finely-grated lemon peel (it needs this acidity)
- Juice of the lemon
- 1 tablespoon potato starch (you can substitute corn starch, but I keep watch for GMOs and aluminum)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- A jhushj of fresh grated nutmeg (I don’t know what a measure equal to a jhushj would be, so just grate it over the top of the mixture)
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- Rum or cognac (optional, but not in my house)
Cream butter with mixer until it is fluffed. Add your molasses and beat that up a little. Then add your figs, butter, and lemon juice and peel. Add the remaining dry ingredients (potato starch, salt, and other seasonings), until it is all mixed together. Fold in your pulled pork. If you’re really feeling froggy, a little cognac or rum poured in doesn't hurt! Pour into a prepared pie crust (I make mine from scratch, but it’s your call from here) If you want to make it look authentic, place a pie crust or pie lattice over the pie, slice it a few times if it’s a full crust, and egg-white brush it. Place in a 325-degree oven for about 45 minutes. Eat slowly. Enjoy. I can’t TELL you how emotional this experience will be for many Christmases to come!