Monday, September 8, 2014

Atora and the Tough Guy Pudding

Atora is shredded clarified beef suet, and it is still being made today. It was first manufactured in Manchester, England in 1893 by an French-born engraver named Gabriel Hugon who noticed that his wife was having problems using suet in block form. She was chopping and chopping and getting frustrated. And so Atora was born, the suet you could buy already shredded.

Like Madame Hugon, I find shortening in block form frustrating. I wish they made shredded Crisco, actually. I know it is too soft to shred - even if you freeze it, which is what I tried to do last Christmas when I made plum puddings for the first time. I Googled 'how to shred Crisco' and that's what a couple of places said (I forget which ones) - ha ha, they said merrily, just shred it, it'll be fine. It was a complete and utter mess, is what it was. Not fine! But the plum puddings were OK. I even took a few photos, I was so pleased with them.

Image from Yvonne C at Pinterest
Then I thought I might put them on Instagram and make an account just for that. But that seemed pretty silly. I think I might do Instagram one of these days, though.

Back to Atora, though... Hugon named his shredded suet after the Spanish word for bull, "toro." Because bull equals beef equals suet, get it? Happily for those of us who live with vegetarians and with English folks who like puddings, they now make a vegetable version of Atora. If I lived in England I would definitely get some in for my next round of Christmas puddings.

Another selling point: the prospect of making a Tough Guy Christmas Pudding. Only I will be making a Tough Gal version because I am totally going to be the boss of the puddings this year. And of the Crisco. Even if I have to start freezing it right now down at the bottom of the chest freezer, surrounded by bags of ice!

According to the Atora website they sell over 2300 tons of Atora every year. That's a lot of suet.  People generally use it for steamed puddings, dumplings and of course pie pastry. But not the Cup Steak Pudding things in the top picture. I know that  individual Steak Puddings can be very nice. But they just look so terrible in this picture.

For my original two-liner about this picture of "dainty little puddings" you can check out my Kitsch and Retro Tumblr post here.


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