I adore root vegetables. Parsnips are my absolute favourites, but I’ll take pretty much any that are on offer – be they roasted, boiled or mashed. Sadly, the parsnips in my parents’ vegetable patch didn’t come to fruition though, this year. They realised way back in June that the little guys just weren’t going to make it, so when I was informed that Christmas dinner was going to be somewhat lacking this year, I immediately began researching substitute roots that would still have time to grow before the fat old man in red started doing the rounds. (I’m taking about the ever-reliable Saint Nick here, just in case there was any confusion.)
In fact, the swedes and turnips I bought have been ready for quite a while now, so I’ve already been gorging myself on wonderfully tasty roasted root salads, soups and stews. However, last week I decided to try something a bit different.
Last Sunday, the folks and I went out for a fabulous Sunday lunch at the Stagg Inn. I’ll keep the description brief (otherwise this will turn into a gushing restaurant review, rather than a recipe post), but suffice to say their home-reared roast pork melted in the mouth and a baked lemon tart with blackcurrant sorbet I had for dessert was possibly the best in eating memory. Anyway, the reason I mention the Stagg at all, is due to the fact that they have started selling their own food products, as well as serving the best lemon tarts in the world.
As we were paying the bill, we noticed that they were selling faggots made from their own pigs, and my mother and I (being the food-thrift lovers that we are) got rather excited about this. So much so, that we ended up buying six for dinner later on that week.
Of course, it went without saying that roots were going to be eaten in the same forkful as the faggots and I began thinking about how they would be most suitably prepared. Flicking through one of my numerous recipe scrapbooks (again, I can’t find the original online, so am unable to reference it), I came across a recipe for parsnip puddings and decided that it I could adapt it to suit my offally needs. (I should actually tell you, I cracked and bought some locally grown parsnips to make these. Just reading the words, ‘parsnip’ and ‘pudding’ sent me into something of a parsnip-deprived fervour, which meant that they had to be included in the dish, along with our home-grown rooty delights.)
So, the faggots were roasted along with a couple of leeks from the garden and a red wine gravy made from the sticky bits left behind in the tin. The puddings were steamed in individual ramekins, turned out into dishes and surrounded by the faggots, leeks and gravy, and all looked hearty and picture-perfect. And then the camera batteries died. Drat.
Ah well, the versatility of these tasty wee puds means that they make a decent vegetarian main course too. So the remaining pudding was eaten the next day, re-heated and topped with toasted walnuts and dressed with a winter leaf salad.
The recipe makes four individual puddings. Here it is:
Root vegetables – 500g (I used 2 parsnips, a swede and a turnip)
Ground mace or freshly grated nutmeg – 1 tsp
Eggs – 3
Natural yoghurt – 3 tbsp
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius/gas mark 3 and butter and line 4 ramekins with greaseproof paper.
Peel your chosen root vegetables and cut them into equal sized pieces. Boil or steam these until tender. When ready, drain the vegetables well and allow to cool a little.
Put a fairly full kettle on to boil.
Puree the root vegetables in a processor/using a stick blender and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg or mace (or use ½ tsp of each of these nutmeg-derived spices, as I did), then add the eggs and yoghurt and blend until smooth. Taste again in case further seasoning is needed, and divide between the ramekins.
Place the ramekins in a deep roasting tin and fill the roasting tin with boiling water until it comes halfway up the ramekins.
Carefully insert the roasting tin into the preheated oven and bake for 25 mins, until the puddings have set.
Once the puddings have had their time, remove the ramekins from the roasting tin. (They will quite happily sit for a few minutes before being turned out.) Gently run a knife around the inside of the ramekins, invert onto a plate or dish, and cautiously peel off the greaseproof paper.
Eat with faggots and gravy. Or not.