Sunday, February 10, 2013

Pease Porridge Hot (Gluten Free)

Pease Porridge Hot undoubtedly derived its name from the nursery rhyme, Pease porridge hot, pease porridge cold, pease porridge in the pot, nine days, old. Here is your opportunity to find out what pease porridge really is. What it amounts to is concentrated split pea soup, hailing from the great state of New Hampshire. Wikipedia and tell us that pease porridge is an English dish. Pease is a mass noun, like soup.
The dried split peas were put in a kettle to simmer over the fire. Some cooks added bacon or ham bones and other vegetables. The pot bubbled all day and then was taken off the fire and set aside. It congealed and was eaten cold the next morning. The cook might add some milk and mix it up as hot pea soup the following evening.
I made this on Sunday night after my husband, Bob,  expressed a desire for the Omaha Steaks pork loins that were lurking in the freezer. One of the issues I have with these somewhat unconventional, or old fashioned, dishes, is when to serve them. But everyone knows that split peas go with pork, so it was a no brainer.
This recipe has certain issues that may trap the inexperienced cook. The first one is, how much water do you put in the pot along with the pound of split peas, the onion, etc? Hewitt, despite her introduction where she says the problem with old recipes is, Aunt Jean knew how much a handful of flour was, but, we don't, does not tell us how much water. I would add enough water to cover the peas with an inch of the stuff. Also, keep an eye on the peas as they cook. You may have to add more water.
In the second hour of cooking, the directions are to "Cook it very slowly." Translation, turn the gas or electricity down as low as it will go, and let it cook. But, again, keep an eye on it. You don't want it to scorch, so if it seems thicker than, say, library paste, add a little water, maybe half a cup or a cup.
Step three says to put the peas through a sieve. You really don't need to do that. The peas were cooked into a thick mush after the second hour.
If you like split pea soup, you will like this. I wouldn't eat it for breakfast. Tastes have changed, after all, but it was good with the pork loin, and made a great soup after I added a lot of milk to it on Monday afternoon.

Pease Porridge Hot

1 pound green split peas
1 teaspoon salt
1 onion, studded with two whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
1/2 teaspoon tarragon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons butter

1. Place the peas in a kettle and cover with water. Add the salt and onion, bring to a boil and simmer over low heat one hour, adding water as necessary.
2. Remove the cloves from the onion. Add the marjoram, tarragon and pepper and cook very slowly one hour longer, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. The mixture should be very thick.
3. Put through a sieve, check the seasoning and dot with the butter.
Makes eight servings.

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