|Jacques Pépin Celebrates!: Episode
#203: Christmas Special
Jacques and Claudine prepare the Christmas feast of their dreams, starting with OYSTERS ON THE HALF-SHELL served with a TANGY MIGNONETTE SAUCE -- one of Claudine's happiest "edible memories" of Christmases at home. It's a perfect counterpoint to silky HOME-SMOKED SALMON, served in delicate bundles filled with CUCUMBER SALAD. It wouldn't be a Pépin Christmas without Foie Gras, and this year, Jacques prepares it two ways. There's a classic baked terrine of FOIE GRAS WITH COGNAC ASPIC as well as a sensationally simple SALT-CURED FOIE GRAS served with roasted nuts, crunchy sea salt and sweet preserves. The centerpiece is BRAISED DUCK with a tangy honey sauce, GLAZED SHALLOTS and HONEY SWEET POTATOES. And a little BLACK TRUFFLE SALAD with lemon dressing is as understatedly elegant as a little black dress. For dessert, it's back to the classics, as Jacques gives Claudine a step-by-step lesson in creating a spectacular Būche de Noël -- a CHOCOLATE YULE LOG with all its enchanting decorations -- as well as a classic ENGLISH CHRISTMAS PUDDING with raisins, nuts, candied fruit and OLD-FASHIONED HARD SAUCE. This lavish Christmas celebration is Jacques and Claudine's special gift to home cooks everywhere -- all wrapped up and ready to become a treasured holiday tradition.
ENGLISH CHRISTMAS PUDDING WITH HARD SAUCE
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
2 ounces beef suet (white fat from steak can be used)
2 slices white bread
1 cup all-purpose flour (about 5 ounces)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup Scotch whiskey or dark rum
1 tablespoon lemon rind
1 tablespoons orange rind
2 tablespoons orange juice
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup dark raisins
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup diced (1/4-inch) dried apricots
1/3 cup diced (1/4-inch) dried apple
1/3 cup diced (1/4-inch) prunes
1/3 cup diced (1/4-inch) dried pears
1/3 cup diced (1/4-inch) dried peaches
1/2 cup pieces (1/4-inch) walnuts
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons Scotch whiskey or cognac
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (6 ounces), softened
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup Scotch whiskey or cognac
1. For the pudding: Cut the suet into 1-inch pieces, and place in the bowl of a food processor with the white bread and flour. Process until the fat is well ground and the mixture is smooth. Add the eggs, whiskey or rum, lemon and orange rind and juice, allspice, cinnamon, cloves, vanilla, and brown sugar to the mixture in the processor and process until well-homogenized.
2. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl, add the remaining pudding ingredients, and stir to mix well. Spoon into a four-to-five-cup ovenproof glass bowl with high sides. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight, so it develops flavor. At cooking time, wrap the bowl completely with aluminum foil to seal it, and place it in a pot that is large enough to contain it. Pour lukewarm tap water around the mold, so it comes approximately three-fourths of the way up the sides of the bowl.
3. Place the pot over high heat and bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to very low, cover the pot with a lid, and simmer the pudding for about 5 hours. The water should not boil; it should be maintained at a heat of 170 to 180 degrees. If the water evaporates during cooking, replenish occasionally to keep it at the appropriate level. When cooked, remove the aluminum foil from around the mold. The internal temperature of the pudding should be 180 degrees. Let cool to room temperature.
4. Unmold the cooled pudding onto a piece of plastic wrap; it should slide out of the bowl easily. Wrap tightly in the plastic wrap, and refrigerate (it will keep for several weeks), or freeze.
5. At serving time, place the cake back in the bowl in which it was cooked, cover with aluminum foil, and steam again in the same manner for about 1 hour, until warm in the center.
6. Prepare the soaking syrup: In a bowl, mix the confectioners' sugar and whiskey or cognac with the lemon juice, stirring until smooth. Unmold the cake, and brush with the syrup to flavor it.
7. Prepare the hard sauce: Put the soft butter, confectioners' sugar, and whiskey or Cognac in the bowl of a food processor, process until smooth, and spoon into a serving dish.
8.Arrange the pudding on an attractive serving platter with some holly around it, if desired, to make it festive. Serve with a spoonful of hard sauce on top and extra sauce around the platter.