The online magazine
dedicated to the
discussion & revival
of British foodways.

NO.53
SUMMER2017

Bacon & Mushroom Roly Poly

Bacon and Mushroom Roly Poly. It would be an understatement to observe that puddings, both savory and sweet, were popular among Georgian Britons, both on land and at sea. This savory one is easy to make and good to eat.


Pudding ClothPastry

- 8oz (1 cup) self-raising flour

- Scant ¼ tsp baking powder

- 4 oz (1/2 cup) shredded suet

- Salt and white pepper to taste

- Water to bind

  1. Mix the solid ingredients together, then gradually add enough water to form a dough that just holds together: It should feel a bit firm.
  2. Sprinkle a board or other hard surface with flour and roll out the pastry into a roughly rectangular shape ¼” thick. If cracks or fissures appear just pinch them together.

Filling

- 8oz bacon, Irish baco or ham, chopped into small pieces

- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter

- 1 large or 2 smaller onions, chopped the same size

- About 2 cups roughly chopped mushrooms

- A drop of mushroom ketchup or, lacking that, Worcestershire

- Black pepper to taste.


  1. If using smoked bacon, fry it gently over medium low heat to render it of some fat. If using Irish bacon or ham instead, omit this step.
  2. Melt the butter in the skillet (double the amount if you have not started with bacon), add the onions with some salt and let them soften but not brown.
  3. Add the mushrooms and cook the mixture until they stop leaching liquid, then add the splash of mushroom ketchup and reduce it away. If you are using Irish bacon or ham, add it now.
  4. Add a generous grind of pepper and let the filling cool.
  5. Spread the filling evenly over the pastry.

Assembly

  1. Gently roll up the pastry: You may need a thin spatula (or two) to help you keep it together.
  2. Lightly flour a clean dishcloth and tie the pudding up inside. Do not tie it too snugly or the pastry will be unable to expand and become light and spongy.
  3. Boil the pudding for about 2 hours, then remove the cloth and slice the pudding like a jelly roll.

Notes:

- The use of a cloth, or special bag (see “Food at Sea in the Age of Fighting Sail” in the critical), renders the roly poly authentically Nelsonian.: Sailors (along with everyone else) did not have recourse to a pudding basin during the Napoleonic era.

- Unfilled puddings, in practical effect big dumplings made entirely from pastry incorporating flavoring and seasonings, are even easier to cook in a cloth. If you are making dumplings with something like boiled beef for a crowd it is a handier technique than dropping spoonfuls of dumpling directly into the stock; they do not jostle and stick and you need not fish them all out of the pot separately; just open the cloth and slice even, pretty discs with your sharpest knife.

Good with brown sauce or creamy horseradish sauce.

- Sometimes the Editor adds some chives to the filling.

- A fistful of rehydrated porcini instead of half of the fresh mushrooms makes this roly poly even better. Soak them in warm water for 20 -30 minutes before squeezing them dry and adding them to the skillet after step 3.