This old-school recipe for pudim Abade de Priscos has been passed down through generations of the Portuguese winemaking Santiago family. A few ounces of finely chopped presunto—a smoked, dry-cured ham akin to speck—are simmered in a sugar syrup which is then strained and added to the custard, lending the dish its characteristic savory notes and offsetting the pudding’s burnished caramel sweetness. Look for presunto at Portuguese specialty markets such as Portugalia in Fall River, Massachusetts, or substitute another smoky, dry-cured ham.
Pair the flan-like custard with a dry or off-dry sparkling wine, such as with Quinta de Santiago Alvarhino Espumante, which provides textural contrast to the creamy, flan-like pudding.
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For the caramel:
- 1¼ cups sugar
For the custard:
- 2¼ cups water
- ¼ tsp. finely grated lemon zest
- 1 cinnamon stick
- ¼ cups finely chopped presunto (or substitute speck)
- 15 large egg yolks
- 2 large egg whites
- ¼ cups tawny Port wine
- Preheat the oven (with one of its racks positioned in the center) to 350ºF.
- Prepare the caramel: In a medium pot set over high heat, stir together the sugar and 3 tablespoons of water. Bring to a boil and cook, without stirring, until the caramel is a deep amber color, 10–12 minutes. Remove from the heat, and carefully pour the caramel into a 9-inch savarin mold or tube cake pan, tilting the pan and using the back of a silicone spatula as needed to evenly coat the bottom of the mold. Set aside to set.
- Make the custard: To the same pot, add the sugar, lemon zest, cinnamon stick, and 2¼ cups water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add the presunto and cook, stirring continuously until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and set aside to infuse and cool for 15 minutes.
- Position a fine mesh strainer over a large liquid measuring cup and strain the sugar syrup; discard the ham solids and cinnamon stick.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, egg whites, and the Port. Gradually whisk into the strained sugar syrup until smooth, then pour the custard into the prepared mold. Transfer the mold to a large baking dish, then fill the baking dish with enough hot water to come halfway up the outside of the custard mold. Transfer to the oven and bake until the custard set, with a slight jiggle when shaken, about 1½ hours. Remove from the oven and cool the custard (still in its water bath) to room temperature. Remove the cooled custard from the water bath, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 6 and up to 24 hours. (If you attempt to unmold the custard sooner, the caramel may not yet have softened to a sauce)
- To serve, run a thin, offset spatula or a paring knife along the edges of the mold, then place a large, rimmed serving platter upside-down atop it. Quickly and confidently, invert the mold and the platter together to unmold the pudding. Remove the mold, allowing the caramel to run down the sides of the custard. Cut into slices and serve chilled.