Sweet and savoury winter warmers

Here are a couple of dishes to warm you up. Affectionately known as ‘duffs’, suet puddings were once almost a staple diet during winter.

The name is a colloquial corruption of dough in the south of England, and it’s from that part of the country where these recipes originated, a savoury and a sweet.

Ashdown partridge pudding

This dates back to medieval times when cooks probably discovered that that old game birds that are too tough for roasting become exceptionally tender when cooked for hours under a covering of pastry. This combination of game and meat was recorded in Tudor cookery.

2 dressed partridges, 4oz/100g sliced mushrooms, 4ozs/100g rump steak, ¼ pt/250ml claret, ½ teaspoon each of mixed herbs/parsley,1 pt/500ml game or beef stock, 2lb/1kg suet paste.

Slice the beef and joint the partridge into 4/6 pieces.

Line a 3-4pt/2ltr pudding basin with 2/3 of the suet paste and place in the partridge, beef, mushrooms and herbs/parsley. Season and pour over the claret and enough of the stock to cover the meats. Cover with the remaining paste and tie down with greaseproof and a pudding cloth or kitchen foil, steam for 3-3½ hrs.

Brown duff

6oz/150g white breadcrumbs, 2oz/50g plain flour, 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda, 3oz/75g brown sugar, 4ozs/100g suet, 1 egg, ½ lb/200g black treacle, milk

Mix all the dry ingredients together; add the egg, treacle, and enough milk to give a soft ‘dropping’ consistency. Place into a buttered 2½pt/1ltr pudding basin, cover as before and steam for three hours.

Serve with jam or treacle and a thick custard!