Pease pudding is a traditional British recipe from North East England. It is savoury dish which goes perfectly with boiled ham or gammon.
It was not until I moved to the North East that I became familiar with Pease pudding. Pease pudding is a simple dish which you can eat hot or cold. Usually found served with ham in stotties (large bread rolls) or alongside boiled gammon. The simple earthy sweetness of the peas is a wonderful complement to the salty ham.
Read more: Stottie recipe
You make Pease pudding by boiling yellow split peas. The dish is born from poverty, the peas often cook in the same pot as the ham or bacon. The stock adding a subtle flavour to the finished dish. There is almost a magic in watching the split peas transform from their hard yellow roundness to a soft slushy paste. Use Pease pudding in a sandwich to transform it to a lunchtime delight.
Cook the dish slowly, the cooking time depends on the freshness of the peas. It can take anything from ninety minutes to two hours.
Pease pudding is one of the oldest printed English recipes. It was a common part of the diet of mariners in the seventeenth century. You can find mentions of Pease pudding in many maritime books It was part of a sailors daily rations alongside salt beef and salt pork.
In medieval times poor families would only have one pot or kettle for cooking in. Everything edible would go into the pot including beans, grains, peas and occasionally meat. This would make a stew or pottage which could last for days. Pease pudding began as medieval pease pottage and is now commonly found across North East England.
Pease in the middle English word for pea. The name Pease pudding refers to a type of porridge made from peas. It was not made from fresh peas but dried split peas which keep well all year round. The addition of water, spices and a ham or bacon joint turn the peas into pease pudding.
Pease pudding is also known as Pease pottage or Pease porridge. The invention of a pudding cloth made it easy to cook a joint of ham and the dried split peas together. This is probably why it became known as Pease pudding.
Pease pudding is popular in North East England and also known as Geordie Hummus.
You can find variants of Pease pudding in other countries. In Germany the name is erbspüree. In Greece fava is similar but uses split yellow beans instead of peas.
The Pease pudding recipe uses yellow split peas. Boil the split peas with an onion and some herbs until they become soft. Mash the resulting mixture to make a thick paste which is Pease pudding.
When using split peas the packet usually recommends to soak them overnight before cooking. This will shorten the cooking time but is not strictly necessary. Rinse the peas thoroughly until the water is clear before using them.
Peel an onion and add to the pan with the split peas and water. Leave it whole so it is easy to remove later. Simmer until the peas become soft. It usually takes around 90 minutes but it could be more or less, depending on the peas. Adding a stock cube will add more flavour.
Split peas absorb a lot of water as they cook so keep an eye on the pan and add water if necessary. The finished consistency of the Pease pudding should be similar to wallpaper paste.
When the Pease pudding is ready remove the onion and mash up with a wooden spoon or potato masher. Season with salt and pepper.
If you are boiling a ham you can cook the Pease pudding in the same pan as the meat which will add flavour. Tie the peas in a muslin cloth with the onion and suspend the cloth in the broth where the ham is boiling. You can remove the cloth at the end and mash the pea in the same way.
Read more: Northumberland ham broth recipe
Add the split peas to the pan with the water and the stock cube
Pease pudding is similar in texture and taste to hummus. It has a yellow appearance and is quite thick.
You can keep Pease pudding in the fridge covered for a few days.
You can pick up Pease pudding in pots in the supermarket but home made is much tastier. This recipe makes a big bowlful which you can enjoy all week.. Serve with roast gammon and red cabbage and use the rest on ham and Pease pudding sandwiches.
To make a more luxurious meal the serve the ham with a marmalade glaze. An ideal meal for a Sunday afternoon. If there are any split peas left over you can use them in a hearty warming soup. Ham and split pea soup and Scotch broth both call out for the addition of split peas and are perfect soups for colder days.
If you have not tried pease pudding you definitely should, it adds another dimension to a sandwich.
If you don’t have time to make your own then local suppliers Pete’s Puddin’ have a great range of Pease pudding with different flavours.
As a child I was very familiar with the nursery rhyme about pease pudding and indeed what child isn’t. The rhyme goes:
Pease pudding hot, pease pudding cold,
Pease pudding in the pot, nine days old;
Some like it hot, some like it cold,
Some like it in the pot, nine days old.
and is often sung as part of a clapping and singing game.
The origins of the rhyme are unclear but it was possibly thought up by supporters of Queen Mary to celebrate the downfall of Lady Jane Grey, the nine days Queen. It was a way to indicate that she was of common stock, as Pease pudding was a dish enjoyed by the commoners.
Have you ever tried Pease pudding? Let me know below.
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