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Food And Drink : Cornish Classic Recipes : Junket

Junket

Here we are again friends, and now time to use a little creative licence. The following classic wasn’t technically born in Cornwall, but has long been an adopted favourite in these parts and that’s good enough for me. The dish I’m referring to is Junket.

Junket Junket - Picture 1 Junket - Picture 2

Before you run screaming to the hills from such an odd sounding name, let me tell you more……
Apparently originally developed by an American scientist (I’m not convinced) Junket by definition means the process of adding Rennet (Animal stomach enzymes) to Milk. Primarily a cheese making technique to form the curds and whey, it was also used to create desserts. Thankfully there are now vegetarian Rennet variations…..a good thing as I’m not too keen on pudding with a side of stomach!

The Cornish history is a little more charming. It was originally created as a dish for the wealthy, using cream and liquor to make a rich after dinner treat. Then, in time, it became a dish for everyday folk, particularly being a good remedy for the ill, as it was nutritious, and easy to digest!

For me, I came across Junket as a teenager working in ‘Nevilles’ Restaurant, in my hometown of Polperro. We had a group of regulars who ate with us every month, and they requested it as a pudding for their table. I’d never seen it before, or tasted it, but whenever they booked, I looked forward to trying a little of the strange creamy creation.

To know a bit more, I spoke to my Dad. My dad is as Cornish as they come, so I figured he must have had his share of Junket as a boy. “My mum, your Nan, made it regularly. We usually had it once a week, topped with nutmeg. It was creamy, like a milk jelly, and it was always lovely.” It seems to have died out a little now; perhaps it’s time for a revival…..

So on to the recipe. My trusty books version calls for Brandy, but not being a Brandy fan (surprising I know) I decided to go without. The recipe is incredibly simple, and only requires three ingredients! After tracking down some Rennet in a health food store, I started the challenge.
One pint of milk went into a pan, along with 1 dessert spoon full of sugar, two sugar lumps rubbed on a lemon, and 1 tablespoon of rennet. After warming to blood temperature and stirring well, it was into little dishes to cool and set. That is really all there is to it. Without doubt, the easiest recipe I think I have ever completed.

Ok, not completely fool proof. My first attempt didn’t set at all; it was just milk in a dish. But I would not be defeated by a pudding, so it was second time lucky, and this time we hit success. Although my recipe didn’t specify it, I topped mine with grated nutmeg, just like my Dad used to eat.

It was creamy and smooth, lighter than I remembered, and a real comfort food sliding off the spoon with tangible ease. Would I eat it all the time? Probably not, but is it good? Absolutely, but I suspect not as good as my Nan’s.

Recipe

1 pint full fat milk
1 tablespoon Rennet 
1 dessertspoon sugar
2 sugar lumps rubbed on a lemon

Method

1.     Warm the milk to blood heat, add the sugar and stir in the sugar lumps.
2.     Pour the milk into a bowl, and stir in the rennet.
3.     Put into the refrigerator to cool and set.