What is pease porridge? Find out the origins of this unique British dish and why it makes a great accompaniment to ham, gammon or salt pork.
Pease porridge is a dish made from boiled split peas and seasonings and originates as a peasant food from the north east of England, where it is still enjoyed today.
Recipes for this unique dish date back hundreds of years and one of the earliest mentions of it is in a book called 'The House-Keeper's Pocket-Book' from 1739!
It's less common in other parts of England and even rarer outside the UK (although it does form part of the 'Jiggs Dinner' which is a popular Sunday meal in some parts of Canada).
But we think this healthy, comforting food deserves a little more appreciation! It's easy to prepare, super satisfying and makes a delicious accompaniment to offset the saltiness of foods like ham, gammon and salt pork. It's also great served as a spread in sandwiches made with these salty meats.
Shouldn't pease porridge be served for breakfast?
Although it may sound like a breakfast dish, pease porridge is definitely a savory food to be served with the main course! Pease 'porridge' or 'pottage' was its original name, used when it was cooked in a large cauldron over the fire.
When pudding cloth was invented, the preparation method for pease porridge changed a little. The ingredients were wrapped in the cloth and boiled. This is believed to be the reason for the change in name to 'pease pudding'.
(This is a good time to point out that pudding doesn't actually mean 'dessert' in England - it just refers to the method of cooking!).
How is pease porridge (or pudding!) made
There are many variations on the basic recipe, but pease porridge is essentially a mixture of boiled split peas, salt and spices.
Either yellow or green split peas can be used, although the oldest, most traditional recipes always call for the yellow variety. The dried peas are soaked overnight, then boiled in water or stock (traditionally ham hock).
Finally, they are ground to a mush before being mixed with the other ingredients, which can include butter, onion or even egg.
Although modern recipes call for plenty of seasoning, the original dish was intentionally very mild in flavor - almost bland! This made it ideal for offsetting the salty flavors of the meat it is traditionally served with.
The texture is similar to hummus, but quite a bit more solid. In fact, it holds together so well that in England it is sometimes cut into 'slices' which are then fried or baked.
This traditional pease pudding recipe is simple to make and a great way to include a taste of England in your next meal.