The ‘hackin’ or ‘hack pudding’ was a pudding made in Cumbria, formerly Cumberland, in the Lake District. The custom was to eat the hackin pudding on Christmas morning and therefore it is very likely that it is the ancestor of Christmas pudding. Like plum pudding, slices of hackin were sometimes ‘fired’ or grilled under a rotating spit of beef or mutton, or baked just at the mouth of the oven and served before or with the meat. The following recipe is from Richard Bradley, The Country Housewife and Lady’s Director, published in London in 1732. Mutton suet was sometimes used instead of beef.
To make a hackin. From a Gentleman in Cumberland.
Sir, There are some Counties in England, whose Customs are never to be set aside and our Friends in Cumberland, as well as some of our Neighbours in Lancashire, and else-where, keep them up. It is a Custom with us every Christmas-Day in the Morning, to have, what we call an Hackin, for the Breakfast of the young Men who work about our House; and if this Dish is not dressed by that time it is Day-light, the Maid is led through the Town, between two Men, as fast as they can run with her, up Hill and down Hill, which she accounts a great shame. But as for the Receipt to make this Hackin, which is admired so much by us, it is as follows.
Take the Bag or Paunch of a Calf, and wash it, and clean it well with Water and Salt; then take some Beef-Suet, and shred it small, and shred some Apples, after they are pared and cored, very small. Then put in some Sugar, and some Spice beaten small, a little Lemon-Peel cut very fine, and a little Salt, and a good quantity of Grots, or whole Oat-meal, steep’d a Night in Milk; then mix these all together, and add as many Currans pick’d clean from the Stalks, and rubb’d in a coarse Cloth; but let them not be wash’d. And when you have all ready, mix them together, and put them into the Calf’s-Bag, and tye them up, and boil them till they are enough. You may, if you will, mix up with the whole, some Eggs beaten, which will help to bind it. This is our Custom to have ready, at the opening of the Doors, on Christmas- Day in the Morning. It is esteem’d here; but all that I can say to you of it, is, that it eats somewhat like a Christmas-Pye, or is some-what like boil’d. I had forgot to say, that with the rest of the Ingredients, there should be some Lean of tender Beef minced small.
Richard Bradley, The Country Housewife and Lady’s Director, 1732