Boiled Smoked Bacon with Pease Pudding with Onion and Mustard Sauce
Let me explain the appeal of this delightfully unfashionable, totally forgotten delicacy. First, collar of bacon has more flavour than the leaner, middle-cut gammon. Secondly, I'm sure many people have forgotten – or never actually tasted – dried marrowfat peas with their mealy texture and concentrated flavour of peas. Then, when we add an onion and mustard sauce, the combination of the whole is utterly sublime. That said, you may have discerned that I'm actually talking three recipes here. But the good news is that there's a fourth recipe too – what we're going to do after boiling the bacon is reserve and freeze the stock to make a recipe called The London Particular.
This recipe first appeared in Sainsbury’s Magazine. Serves 6
Start off by cooking the pease pudding. To do this, place the peas in a pan, pour in just enough water to cover, then add the onion, bay leaf and thyme (but no salt). Bring it up to a gentle simmer, put the lid on and cook for about 1 hour, or until the skins split and the peas are tender – they will be having some more cooking so they don't need to be absolutely smashed.
Now drain off the cooking water, discarding the thyme and bay leaf, then put the peas and the onion into a bowl and mash them with a large fork, along with the butter, beaten egg and a seasoning of salt and pepper, plus a few good gratings of nutmeg. Now transfer the mashed pea mixture to sit in the centre of the square of muslin, gather the edges into the centre then, leaving a bit of room for it to expand, tie it securely with string leaving enough spare to tie it to the handle of the pan.
What you need to do now is place the bacon in the casserole along with the small onion studded with cloves, the bay leaves, carrot and peppercorns, then tie the pudding to the handle of the pan so that it sits alongside the bacon in the casserole. Cover with cold water and bring the whole lot up to a gentle simmer. Put a lid on and let it cook very gently for 1¼ hours. When the bacon is cooked, transfer it to a dish, cover with foil and let it rest. Leave the pudding in the casserole but ladle out 6 fl oz (175 ml) of the water into a measuring jug. If you want to make The London Particular reserve and freeze the rest of the stock.
Next, make up the sauce: in a smallish saucepan, melt 1 oz (25 g) of the butter and add the onion, and when you've stirred it so it's nice and buttery, let it cook on the lowest possible heat for about 20 minutes. It's important not to let it colour, so give it a few stirs from time to time. Now, using a wooden spoon, stir in the flour and the powdered mustard till smooth, then add the milk a little at a time, still stirring, followed by some of the stock, then switch to a balloon whisk and keep whisking after each addition. Now taste and season the sauce with salt and pepper and let it barely simmer for 5 minutes.
After that, stir in the grain mustard and the rest of the butter, then pour into a warmed serving jug. Carve the bacon joint into slices and cut slices of the pease pudding (rather as you would do with a cake) and have some extra mustard on the table. I serve this with mashed potatoes and boiled buttered Savoy cabbage, but smaller steamed potatoes, such as Anya or Charlotte, would be good.