Although Christmas is a time for traditional dishes sometimes I cannot resist giving them an exciting twist. What could be more old-fashioned and English than a steamed pudding presented in its basin, wrapped in a white linen napkin? The light crust of this pudding is made with butter instead of suet; it is spiced and full of taste. Once broken into, the crust reveals not steak and kidney but a filling of lemony chicken with chicory which is mouthwatering and delicate. I serve this pudding simply with a green salad or green beans.
Cut the chicken into largish chunks. Put the plain flour into a bowl and season it with salt and black pepper. Add the chicken and turn it around to coat it with flour. Heat the olive oil in a large frying-pan over a high heat. Add the chicken pieces and fry just to brown them on all sides; then remove from the heat and leave in a bowl on one side to cool.
Put the self-raising flour in a bowl and mix in the spices, the dill, the cayenne pepper (chilli powder) and salt. Stir in the breadcrumbs. Holding the frozen butter in a cloth at one end, coarsely grate it into the flour and breadcrumb mixture, mixing it in lightly with your fingertips. Whisk the egg lightly in a measuring jug and bring it up to
Put a large saucepan half full of water on to boil. Peel the ginger and garlic and chip finely. Cut the chicory across in thickish slices. Mix the chopped ginger and garlic, the lemon rind and the sliced chicory with the browned chicken. Add the lemon juice and season with salt and black pepper. Spoon the mixture into the lined basin, piling it up in a mound at the top. Fold the overlapping pasty over the filling and dampen the folded-over edges. Roll out the reserved dough in a circle big enough for the top. Press the edges lightly to seal them. Butter a piece of greaseproof paper, make a pleat in the middle and put it over the top of the pudding. Put a piece of foil fairly loosely over the paper and tie both securely round the basin with string. Make a string handle and then lower the basin into the saucepan of boiling water. Cover and boil gently for 3-3½ hours (or 1 hour in a pressure cooker) topping up the water now and then so that it doesn’t boil away.
© 1978 Josceline Dimbleby. All rights reserved.