“ Manufacturer: The Great British Pudding Company / Type: Pies „
COST: £1.75, on special offer at my local Morrisons, for a 370g pudding
NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION (per pudding):
Saturated fats: 30.0g
Total carbohydrate: 86.1g
Wheat flour, shortening, water, suet, salt, water, chicken breast, leeks, milk powder, onions, margarine, modified maize starch, chicken flavour bouillon, sugar, celery powder
ALLERGY & DIETARY INFORMATION:
Contains wheat, soya, celery
Manufactured in an environment that handles milk, egg, mustard, sesame seeds
No hydrogenated fats
Whilst wandering through Morrisons in great need of something reminiscent of a good old stodgy, warming and calorie-laden piece of traditional British cuisine, I spotted The Great British Pudding Company's (referred to from here onwards as TGBPC) Chicken & Leek Pudding. I found the idea of chicken and leek inside a suet pastry crust a little unusual, and decided to push the boat out and have an epicurean adventure. A pudding found its way into my basket, and I was quite looking forward to stuffing my face later.
TGBPC's Chicken & Leek Pudding comes in a square, deep box, which is largely coloured different shades of brown and yellow, with images on the front and sides of a delicious looking pudding. TGBPC's logo is a Union Jack with the name of the company spread across the flag. The back of the box shows nutritional information, ingredients, dietary/allergy information, freezing/storage/cooking instructions and TGBPC's quality claim together with their contact details.
After having prepared a myriad selection of vegetables to eat with the pudding, I opened the box, and a large rather greyish coloured pudding nestled inside, wedged into a microwaveable plastic pot. I studied the cooking instructions, expecting that the pudding should be steamed, but there were no instructions to do so - the only methods of cooking given are for oven baking or microwaving, which I found rather strange, bearing in mind that this is supposed to be a traditional British suet pudding. I opted for the microwave method, which stated that after zapping on full power turned upside-down on a plate (the pudding I mean, not me!), turn the pudding the right way up and sprinkle a tablespoon of water over the top crust, then whizz again for 3 or so minutes.
Once the pudding was cooked, on fishing it out of the microwave, I noticed that the addition of the tablespoon of water to the top crust hadn't evaporated or sunk into the suet pastry properly, and I had to tip the excess water away. Not a good start!
The pudding eased out of the plastic pot onto my plate like a dream, with no scraping needed whatsoever. I was wondering if I'd be able to eat it all, as although I have a huge appetite, the pudding seemed as if it would be too much even for me.
Test time! I cut the pudding in half to have a look at the contents, and noticed that the suet pastry was of the wrong consistency - crispy on the outside, and rather dry on the inside. The filling consisted of quite a large number of small chicken chunks nestling in a white sauce. I had to stir the mixture around to find evidence of the presence of leeks, and discovered two tiny shreds at the bottom. The serving of chicken was quite generous, and I scooped up a couple of pieces with some of the sauce, for a taster. This filling smelled rather delicious - nice and chickeny - and tasted pretty good too, although I do believe reconstituted chicken was used. The meat pieces were moist and tender, and the sauce tasted lovely; but there was not even a hint of leek flavour which makes me wonder why TGBPC bother marketing the puddings as chicken AND leek.
I was really enjoying the filling, and ate it all before sampling the suet pastry, as I wanted to test them separately from one another. The thickness was about how I personally feel it ought to be (around 2/3rds of an inch), but the consistency was strange, to say the least. It wasn't at all puddingy....it resembled what I can only described as very sub-standard shortcrust pastry. The bottom crust was pappy and sloppy, and the sides were hard to the point where I couldn't cut the pastry - I resorted at one point to picking it up and biting chunks out of it, as my knife wouldn't go through it. The lid of the pudding was hard on the underside, and horribly sloppy on top. The whole experience of eating the pastry was pretty awful, to the point where I had to leave half of it.
I appreciate that it is possible the suet crust pastry was supposed to have a baked rather than a steamed consistency, but even so, it was absolutely disgusting - a real bringdown after the very good filling, and it's highly unlikely I shall ever buy a TGBPC pudding again.
The pudding I'd estimate is too small for two servings, but too large for a single serving, and compared to other brands of meat suet pudding, is very expensive; even taking Morrisons' special offer into consideration. Also, the whole pudding is colossally high in salt, fat and calories, but the protein content is good.
With dramatically improved the pudding case, and an increase of the portion of leek inside, TGBPC could be onto a winner here, as the filling tastes superb - but they let themselves down badly with the disgusting suet pastry. If they can't make the pastry nicer, then I think it would be a great idea to sell the filling (of course with more leeks) on its own as a kind of a stew or casserole style ready meal - it would go great with rice or noodles, minus the pastry.
I certainly shan't be buying one of these again until I have a written assurance from TGBPC that they've given their suet pastry a complete makeover - the likelihood of that happening is a remote as Haley's Comet, so I'll stick with other brands of more authentic suet pudding in future which are nicer, and far cheaper!
Thanks for reading!