Sunday, May 15, 2011

Budín de chícharo (Pea Pudding)

From Diana Kennedy, The Essential Cuisines of Mexico.

My wife's first reaction when she heard I was going to make this was, and I quote, "gross." She and I were both pleasantly surprised. Not only did Erika have a second helping, the boy had some, as did the dog. In fact, the dog went to town on it. Texture-wise, think of spoon bread with a touch of souffle. As far as flavor, it's definitely pea, but it is not overwhelming. We had it as a side dish with our Pollo en pipian rojo. Erika and I enjoyed it with the orange and walnut sauce, while the boy preferred it plain.

2 pounds frozen peas, thawed
6 ounces unsalted butter
3 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup granulated sugar
6 ounces rice flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 ounces Chihuahua or Muenster Cheese, grated
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
A sauce made by combining 2 cups orange juice with 3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking dish.
Process the peas in a food processor. Melt the butter and set it aside to cool.
Setting the egg white aside, beat the egg yolks until they are thick. Add the sugar and continue beating until it is well incorporated. Beat in the rice flour alternately with the butter.

Stir in the pea pulp, salt, and cheese, mex well, and add the baking powder.
Beat the egg white until they are stiff and fold them into the mixture. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Place the dish on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Then lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue cooking for about 45 minutes. The budín should be soft and spongy to the touch -- the top and sides nicely browned, but the inside moist.

Serve immediately, with the orange and walnut sauce to accompany it.

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