Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Pease pudding hot, pease pudding cold

Pease pudding is such a quintessentially English dish it's even got its own nursery rhyme.Yet it seems to have not only gone out of fashion, but almost completely forgotten about. What a shame - it's cheap, filling, nutritious, low GI, healthy and tasty! In the winter months, those characteristics make it the perfect hearty dish to keep the cold out.

It's not made with fresh garden peas but the split green or yellow variety. You do need to plan ahead, as the peas need soaking beforehand, but it's well worth it. This is the kind of recipe to make over a leisurely weekend, putting the peas to soak on a Saturday afternoon then doing the cooking on the Sunday evening. This recipe makes a generous amount so you can, as the rhyme says, enjoy it hot or cold.

What you need: 
250-300g dried peas
1 small onion, finely diced
1 large carrot, finely diced
2 fresh bayleaves
25g butter
1 litre dilute vegetable stock, cooled

What to do:
Soak the peas for 24 hours in cold water and then drain, rinse and drain again. You may need to change the water halfway through the soaking process.

Put the onion, carrot and peas in a saucepan and add the stock. Bring to the boil, skim off any scum, then turn down the heat a little and keep on a rolling simmer for at least an hour until they have turned to a soft mush and the veg have mostly melted into the mixture. The liquid should have completely evaporated or been absorbed - if not, drain the peas carefully and return to the pan. Fish out the bayleaves then blend the mixture with a stick blender or in a food processor. Season to taste and beat in the butter.

Tip half in a bowl and eat while piping hot. 

Cook's tips: 
Pease pudding goes exceptionally well with pork, particularly cured meats such as bacon chops, gammon steaks, ham hocks or one of those Polish-style smoked pork sausages. If you've boiled the ham, save the liquid and use it for the stock.

It's also delicious cold. Pour the leftover pease pudding into a bowl and put it in the fridge when it has cooled. It will set firm. Use it as a side dish with cold cuts, or spread it on piping hot toast.

I like to turn my leftover pease pudding into a terrine - line a small loaf tin with cling film then wafer thin slices of ham. Pour in the pease pudding, cool then chill in the fridge. To turn out, put a plate over the top of the loaf tin, flip it over, tap the tin hard then ease out the loaf. Carefully peel off the cling film then cut into thick slices - delicious with crusty bread and crudités.

Leftover pease pudding also reheats well in a microwave. Put in a bowl and cover with clingfilm then heat on full power for about two and a half minutes. It does not freeze well, however.