Sunday, November 26, 2006

Pease Pudding Hot, Pease Pudding Cold

Hands up, how many of you have ever experienced the delights of Pease Pudding? It's a peasant dish from the North East of England, and I like to think of it as 'Geordie hummous'. I used to hate it when I was a kid, but after I'd lived away from home for a few years I actually tasted some that my mother had made, announced that I quite liked it, and for every trip home thereafter there was a huge bowl of freshly-made pease pudding.

It's amazingly simple to make. The finished article should set to a spreadable consistency. Take a couple of handfuls of yellow split peas (chana dal, in these parts). Soak them in water for a few hours. Chop an onion into smallish bits, chuck 'em into a pan containing two or three litres of salted water, rinse and drain the peas and hurl them into the pan from a height of eight feet*. Bring to boil, cover and simmer for a couple of hours. That's basically it. The peas and onion will disintegrate and you'll be left with a thickish goo - you might need to let the goo reduce over a high heat for a bit to get the consistency right. At this point you can either stir in a big blob of butter and transfer it to a bowl to set, or you can tie it in a piece of cheesecloth and hang it over a sink for the excess moisture to drain away (I've never used this method but my mother always did).

Another variation is to add the knuckle of a haraminal at the start of cooking. This releases gelatin which helps the setting. When it's all cooked you can strip the meat from the bone, shred it into, well, shreds, and stir them into the goo.

Oh, by the way, the title of this post refers to a bit of an old English nursery rhyme:

Pease pudding hot,
Pease pudding cold,
Pease pudding in the pot,
Nine days old.

It really does improve over time, but nine days is pushing it a bit!

*made-up instruction, ignore.