Ham shank and peas pudding

Moving up from the South some decades ago, my love of the North East started with a girl but quickly embraced peas pudding. However, if you’d seen it on a restaurant menu all those years ago, you’d have done a pretty quick body swerve.

Now though, we serve it in Oldfields at lunch as a starter and it flies out of the kitchen. And while it takes a little time on the cooker, there’s little effort involved. It’s well worth the wait.

Serves four as a light lunch, starter or supper

One ham shank
250g yellow split peas
One onion – peeled and chopped
One sprig of thyme
Two bay leaves
One carrot – peeled
Two sticks of celery – roughly chopped
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
A little chopped parsley or a few chopped chives to finish

Place the ham shank in a large pan along with the carrot, celery, bay leaves and thyme. Cover with cold water, bring to the boil and simmer gently for around a couple of hours or until the meat is falling from the bone.

When cooked, remove the meat and bone from the liquid and allow to cool on a plate. Strain the liquid through a sieve into a clean pan and add the chopped onion and split peas. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 60 to 90 minutes or until the peas are completely broken down. Pour the lot into a food processor or similar and blend until smooth; adjusting the seasoning with salt and pepper as necessary. Allow to cool.

Remove and discard the fat from the now cool ham shank and tear the meat from the bone into coarse pieces.

To serve, place a dollop of peas pudding on a plate with a handful of ham alongside. Give a couple of twists of pepper, sprinkle chopped parsley or chives over the top and serve with buttered crusty bread.

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