Originally, a jointed and boned boiling fowl would have been used for this dish, but you can make an excellent Kentish pudding today using a packet of chicken thighs.
Start by boning the chicken thighs: using a small sharp knife, cut the flesh away from the bone. Slide the knife underneath the bone and cut along its length, detaching it by slicing through next to the cartilaginous ball joint. Pull off the skin and discard.
Add the bones and skin to the chicken stock and simmer until reduced by half. Reserve.
Make the suet crust: mixing the flour and suet in a bowl with the salt and pepper. With a fork, stir in just enough cold water to bind, then turn the soft and slightly sticky dough out on a heavily floured surface and roll into a ball. Cover with a cloth and leave to rest for 15–30 minutes. Divide the rested pastry into
Fry the bacon gently until just cooked but not crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl. Fry the mushrooms in the bacon fat with the butter until softened and put with the bacon. Stir in the onion and chopped parsley.
Roll out the larger piece of dough and use to line a buttered
Cut the chicken thighs into 2 and roll them in flour. Mix thoroughly with the bacon, mushrooms, onion and parsley, season with salt and pepper and fill the basin with the mixture. Strain the stock through a sieve and use to fill the pudding almost to the top, adding the sherry if you like. Brush the rim with cold water and put on the lid, pinching the edges together to seal.
Tie a pleated round of foil on the top – the pleat will allow for expansion – and make a string handle to facilitate lifting the pudding. Sit the pudding on a trivet or upside-down saucer in a large pan and pour boiling water in to come halfway up the basin. Put on a lid and boil for 3–3½ hours, topping up with more boiling water to compensate for evaporation.
Lift out, remove the foil and serve straight from the basin.
© 1998 Alastair Little. All rights reserved.