Carrying on with the thriftiness theme we have been developing, we would like to share three recipes with you over the coming days. This first one is something BBC1’s mum used to make back in the day. The second is a soup he developed as a result of making this himself, and the third is one BBC2 developed several Christmases ago using some leftover ham from a large joint.
Our apologies for the dreadful photo, but by the time we realised the settings on the camera were askew we had eaten our dinner! So can’t replace the photo until next time we make this…doh!
BBC1: I will have to ask you to bear with me on this recipe and the next, because each is not really like a science, more of an art form. Whilst baking and pastry is, and needs to be very precise, this kind of cookery is dependent on your own and your audiences tastes. You need to ‘play’ with it and develop it for yourself. So I apologise in advance if the ingredients and method may seem a little vague. However, the basics are here, I hope!
Please bear in mind, that we cook for two mainly. This way we are able to stretch meals or cook in larger batches to enable us to freeze food for later. So the size of the ham/bacon joint in this recipe is for us.
I realise pease pudding is normally made from yellow split peas, but I don’t think my mum liked them so she used red split lentils instead. Either that or the lentils were cheaper!
1 x bacon/ham/gammon joint for boiling
8 medium sized potatoes, peeled and quartered
4 medium sized carrots, peeled and roughly chopped into 1 inch chunks
1 and a half onions – 1 peeled and quartered, the half sliced and diced into very small pieces
8oz of red split lentils
3 generous knobs of butter
1 ham stock cube
Ground pepper for seasoning
You will also need a large-ish piece of muslin or cotton cloth for the lentil pudding.
Put bacon joint into a large, deep soup pot. Cover entirely with cold water and bring to a boil. As soon as the water comes to a rolling boil, remove from heat and completely drain off the water – this is to ensure the stock is not too salty, as we will be using this for the soup in the next recipe.
Return the bacon joint to the pan and again completely cover in water, so that the water comes about an inch to two inches above the meat. Fetch back to a roiling boil, then lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Add one of the stock cubes and the quartered onion – this is mainly preparing for the soup you will make later. Depending on the size of your joint this can take from one hour upwards to cook.
Whilst the meat is cooking prepare the rest of your vegetables. You will put these in with the meat 20 to 30 mins before the meat is due to be cooked along with your lentil pease pudding.
When you have prepped the vegetables, lay your cloth onto a work surface and place the lentils in the centre. Now place your finely sliced/diced half an onion into the centre of the lentils and your ‘knobs’ of butter around this. Now give this a good grinding of pepper. Gather two, diagonally opposite, corners of the cloth, and fetch these over the mixture tying a single knot in the centre. Then fetch the two remaining corners over this knot and tie a further single knot. This does not need to be too tightly bound as the lentils will expand and swell, but we don’t want it to be so loose that the lentils ‘fall-out’ into the stock.
About 20 to 30 minutes before the meat is due to be cooked put your vegetables and wrapped lentils into the pot along with the meat. Making sure all are completely submerged in the simmering stock.
When the meat is cooked take it out of the pot 10 minutes before serving and allow it to ‘rest’.
Once the vegetables are cooked to your liking take out the wrapped lentils, allowing the stock to drain back into the pot, place onto a plate or in a bowl and very gingerly undo the knots, ensuring not to burn yourself – I use two forks to do this, and it’s another reason why I don’t tie them too tightly.
Slice the meat to your desired thickness and serve with the lentils and vegetables, with some of the stock as ‘gravy’.
Now keep the remaining stock on a very low heat, because after eating dinner we’re going to make Ham, Lentil & Vegetable Soup! You can of course let the stock go cold and make the soup the following day. I just prefer to make it the same day, rather than waiting, because like most soups it always tastes better the day after it is made.
Note – when I make this there are always too many vegetables and too much ‘pease pudding’ for one meal. This is because these ‘leftovers’ go back into the stock to form the basis of the soup. However, if you don’t have vegetables and lentils leftover don’t worry, you can use fresh vegetables and lentils to form your soup base.
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