Turns out, Nov. 13 is National Indian Pudding Day. It sneaked up on you again, didn't it? You can't be blamed.
Indian pudding is virtually unknown outside of New England, and even there it's tricky to find. But this enduring New England dessert may actually deserve a day of its own.
The origins of this food holiday are obscure but the dish itself is unquestionably all-American. The "Indian" in Indian pudding, Wall explains, refers to Native American cornmeal. The original pudding was likely just cornmeal, milk and molasses, steamed or boiled for a very long time. She calls it one of the country's first truly American recipes.
Like much of traditional New England cooking, Indian pudding was quite plain. It fell out of favor, though it never disappeared entirely. Some places, like the historic Wayside Inn in Sudbury Mass., find that though the dish can be a hard sell to the uninitiated, it's still a favorite with locals.
Longfellow's Wayside Inn Baked Indian Pudding Recipe
(Makes 12 servings — halve recipe for smaller batch)
2 quarts milk
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
1/3 teaspoon ginger
2 cups molasses
2 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups whole eggs
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Bring 2 quarts of milk to boil in a heavy pan. Add cornmeal to milk and blend with a wire whisk until it thickens. Add molasses, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger and bring to a boil. In a separate container, blend the 2 1/2 cups of milk and eggs and add the hot mixture to it and stir. Place in a very large, buttered and sugared casserole. Bake in a 350 degree oven approximately 1 hour. Test pudding with a knife for doneness. Let stand and then serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
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