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pudding, two ways, at the same time
Today’s edition of Food is Stupid involves pudding again.
Pudding is a subject I’ve covered a few times before, mostly because I’m obsessed with it. I mean, it’s essentially just a sweet paste that you spoon into your mouth and swallow, which makes it fun for all ages. Pudding is also something you see at buffets and at the end of a cafeteria line, and if there’s any in front of you, it’s likely you’ll feel this strange compulsive urge to eat it.
But as all of you know, there’s multiple definitions to the term “pudding.”
The one I’m most familiar with is the American kind, which is a custard bound with a little bit of starch like flour or cornstarch. But the idea of pudding in British and Irish cuisine is a little more confusing.
Just ask Google.
In Britain and Ireland, “pudding” can be a wide reference to the concept of dessert. It can also refer to a specific type of steamed dish containing flour, which can be savory or sweet (like sticky toffee pudding). And to add further confusion, the term “pudding” can also be defined as “the intestines of a pig or sheep stuffed with oatmeal, spices, and meat and boiled.” (This definition is the one provided to Google by Oxford Languages.) So basically, sausage can also be pudding. What?
I bring all of this up because friend of the newsletter, @sawkinator, recently tweeted at me with a screenshot involving a group chat among her and her friends.
In the chat, the group discusses the possibility of making a sausage-like pudding out of an American custard-style pudding, invoking me and awakening me from my centuries-long slumber in Hell.
While I’m capable of cooking many things using my great prowess as a chef, I don’t quite have the means to make sausage at home just yet. So I thought, why not the reverse? Why couldn’t I, Dannis Ree, the greatest food writer in all of history, make an American pudding…out of a meaty one?
A pudding pudding, so to speak.
Making pudding from scratch is pretty easy.
Basically, all you need is a liquid base such as milk, sugar, eggs, and a starch binder. I started from this recipe via the blog My Baking Addiction (not terribly keen on that name for a twee baking blog, but, that’s beyond my control). It uses all those base ingredients along with cornstarch to thicken it up.
And then, of course, there was the matter of the other pudding component.
I purchased this Irish white pudding from a local specialty store (Chicagoans, it was from the tiny market inside Mrs. Murphy’s and Sons Irish Bistro, if you’re curious). White pudding really is just sausage with a funny name, though it comes in plenty of iterations, like versions that are thickened with components like oats, barley, or breadcrumbs. Black pudding is similar, but it has blood in it, which gives it a richer but somewhat metallic flavor.
The Winston’s brand white pudding that I picked up was pretty much just a big ol’ emulsified version with a smooth filling, though, so no oaty chunks involved. Smooth sausages are the best sausages.
I chopped up the entire white pudding into manageable bits, because it was bound for one of my favorite kitchen tools ever, my Vitamix blender.
You all thought I was going to say I was “pudding” it up my ass, didn’t you? I got you good!
I poured some whole milk into the blender and stared at the sausage cubes floating around in it.
There were so many possibilities. Ice cream, a post-workout beverage, cocktails. But I had to focus.
After blending the milk and white pudding together, I was left with this very strange meat milk.
The smell emanating from it was extremely interesting. It was this creamy garlicky meat aroma that I partially understood, yet couldn’t comprehend emotionally.
I transferred the thick meat milk into my Dutch oven and decided I was impressed with how I decided to spend my day off.
I could have slept in, but this is what I chose to do with my life.
I turned the flame to low and stirred some sugar into the sausaged milk.
Yes, I just used “sausage” as a verb. At this point, the cats could smell the meat and milk warming on the stove. They started pacing around my feet, trying to determine the source of the delicious-to-them aroma. Yet they would be denied a taste of the forbidden sausage milk.
Once the sweetened white pudding milk was warmed up, I whisked a little of it into some egg yolks.
You can’t just stir egg yolks into hot liquid, because they’ll scramble into lumps, which is gross. I had to gently bring them up to temp by using a bit of hot pudding base, then transfer them into the pot to help thicken everything up.
I added a cornstarch slurry in shortly after, along with a pat of butter, and a dash of vanilla extract.
Once the meat pudding (dear God) thickened up, I transferred it to a bowl, wrapped it in plastic, and put it all into the fridge to set up even further. Then I went off to dine at the greatest restaurant in the world, known as the Costco food court.
Have you all been there? The portions are generous and the food is so affordable! Just how do you do it, Costco?! When I was there, I spent $542 on things I didn’t know I even needed, like 12 gallons of mayonnaise and 89 steaks. I am the only person ever to make this joke. Please applaud me.
After I got back home, filled with cheap pizza, the pudding was nicely set up and ready to go.
The pudding pudding looked sort of like whipped mashed potatoes.
It smelled strongly of garlic and cream with a hint of vanilla. Scrumptious. I tried a big spoonful, standing in the kitchen alone (Davida was at work), and immediately started laughing my ass off. It’s been a while since I’ve had that reaction to some dumb shit I’ve made.
I am not entirely sure how one dish could taste so evenly of two things at once, but this stuff tasted exactly like sausage and exactly like vanilla pudding. It was totally fucked. What’s even weirder is that I like both versions of pudding, so I found this oddly compelling to eat. I ended up eating way more of it than I’d initially intended, but I couldn’t tell if I liked it. Amazing.
Well, there you have it, this is fusion cuisine at its highest level, even married by a name. Pudding pudding. I can return to my eternal slumber now, this time, at peace.
Thank you, @sawkinator and crew, for coming up with today’s idea for the newsletter. The world is better off because of it.
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Friday’s subscriber edition actually involves my trip to Costco today. Part of why I went, aside from needing to purchase 12 gallons of mayonnaise, was to try out this nasty TikTok food court hack I keep seeing mentioned online.
Okay, I ran long today. As always, I love you all so very much, and I’ll hop into some of your inboxes this coming Friday. Have a fantastic week.