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. It was not until I moved to the North East that I became familiar with pease pudding. It is a simple dish of boiled yellow split peas, eaten 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.
The dish is born from poverty, the peas often being cooked 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 that can be spread on bread. It is a dish that is cooked slowly, the cooking time depends on the freshness of the peas. It can take anything from ninety minutes to two hours.
Extra water can be added if needed, the finished consistency should be like wallpaper paste. Thick and easily spread. Pease pudding can be picked up in pots in the supermarket these days, but home made is much tastier. The recipe makes a big bowlful which can be enjoyed all week. I served mine with roast gammon and red cabbage but there was plenty left for sandwiches.
To make a more luxurious meal the ham can be served with a marmalade glaze. An ideal meal for a Sunday afternoon. If there are any split peas left over you can use them to make 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.