Some Like it Hot

20 Jun

No, not the Billy Wilder film, but a method (recipe?) for Pease Porridge. This is about as traditional as British food gets. Some like it hot, some like it cold, some like it in the pot, nine days old.

Pease was the name for a crop of dried peas in medieval times. Dried peas were a winter staple of the peasants, and are very high in protein. To make it vegetarian, use miso stock or some other substitute of choice. Boiled bacon was another winter staple, and the method described uses the cooking stock from that option. Dried split peas come in two varieties, yellow and green. Both are half a dried pea, without skin, and both need to be soaked in cold water for at least two hours before cooking. If you can’t find dried split peas, there are some other kinds of dried pulse out there that might work. I used about half a pound of split peas.

Yesterday I cooked a small gammon joint in water with a couple of bay leaves for about one and a half hours on a simmer. I took out the cooked gammon, threw away the bay leaves and added the soaked peas to the liquid. This should be brought to the boil and left to simmer until the peas fall apart. They form a thick and gloopy soup after about an hour and a half. Mine was a little too runny so I added some orzo pasta (shaped like grains of rice). This absorbed the excess liquid. I added some fresh peas from the garden, a small teaspoon of mixed spice and some ground black pepper at the same time as the pasta. It cooked for a further twenty minutes.

Shortly before serving I added some chopped dried tomatoes (in oil) and some grilled peppers, chopped roughly, also from a jar in oil. The mixture is thick and gloopy, but should still move on the plate. It was delicious, and there is still some left. Therefore the question is, do I eat the remainder cold or hot?

Incidentally, Pease Pudding is soaked split peas tied in a cloth and boiled for hours until it forms a shape like a soccer ball. Not so sure about that one.


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