Norfolk Plough Pudding for Plough Monday – A traditional English savoury steamed pudding recipe that originates from Norfolk in East Anglia. This is my Norfolk granny’s recipe and she used to serve it every Plough Monday, as well as throughout the winter period.
A Traditional British Recipe
Today’s’ recipe for Norfolk Plough Pudding for Plough Monday is a wonderful old, English recipe that I remember my Norfolk granny making. It’s also a very clever seasonal winter pudding, as it uses pork, (sausage-meat) and bacon, all of which would need to be used up before the start of spring and the warmer weather. My grandmother used to talk about her childhood days living on a small-holding near Swaffham, here they kept rabbits, ducks, geese, chickens and pigs. And my father also remembers visiting his mother’s brother (who kept the small-holding on) during the war (WW11) and being amazed that they still had meat and eggs to eat. My paternal grandmother wasn’t the best cook, unlike my maternal grandmother, but there were some dishes that she cooked really well, and her Norfolk Plough Pudding was one of them.
This is a fabulous dish for mid-winter, a hearty and simple recipe that uses a few key ingredients and which makes the most of the cheaper cuts of meat. It’s a traditional steamed pudding made with suet crust pastry and which is steamed for several hours meaning you can get on with other tasks as it bubbles away in the background. If you cannot source sausage-meat, which sometimes isn’t available all year around (although you should be able to get it in any good butchers), then do as I did last time I made this, and use high meat content sausages that I skinned. I used smoked lardons, but any smoked bacon will do – my grandmother used to cut bits of a big “flitch” of bacon that she used to have hanging in her kitchen, which gave her the opportunity to choose a 60/40 ratio of meat to fat, meaning the filling wasn’t too dry.
I’ve shared the recipe as faithfully as I remember, given that my paternal granny never wrote her recipes down. I see that some recipes suggest adding sugar and stock/water to the filling. I suspect this was due to the fact that bacon and pork used to be saltier than it is now, but I don’t remember Nanny Burns adding any extra water, stock or sugar to her pudding. Chopped fresh sage and a large eye-watering onion are absolutely essential however, as is the suet crust which encases the filling. This really is a cheap and filling family meal, and is just delectable when served with steamed Savoy or Sweetheart cabbage, mashed potatoes and gravy. Although this pudding was traditionally made for Plough Monday, it is a fabulous recipe to serve throughout the colder winter months. Plus, any leftovers are easily reheated in the microwave next day.
More about Plough Monday: Plough Monday falls on the first Monday after Twelfth Night and Epiphany, and used to be an important date in the agricultural calendar. Traditionally it was the day on which farm workers returned to their duties after the Christmas and New Year break. A plough would be taken to the local church to be blessed in order to “speed the plough” and ensure a bountiful harvest later in the year. It was a difficult time of year for ploughman, as the ground was hard and difficult to work on, so the ploughmen would decorate their ploughs and take them around the local villages where they would ask for money from the wealthy landowners. In Norfolk “Molly Dances” were performed by the young plough boys, whilst in the Midlands “Mummers Plays” were put on for entertainment. The Plough Boys were known as Plough Jacks, Plough Bullocks or Plough Stots and they many of them blackened their faces, a tradition still practised today. In the Cambridgeshire Fens, children would collect money before they went to school, which was called “Ploughwitching”.
My Norfolk Granny’s recipe for Plough Pudding is shared below and do let me know if you make it, or what traditional fare you make for Plough Monday. Enjoy the first weekend in the New Year and I’ve shared a few more seasonal recipes below for winter comfort food inspiration! Karen