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Boiled Peas and Ham

This recipe is in categories Saxons & Vikings, Main courses,
About this recipe:
Difficulty: 2
Preparation Time: Not including shelling the peas, 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 1/2 hours
Number of servings: 4-6 servings
Serving suggestions: Serve with crusty bread

This is a dish cooked wrapped in cloth in a large pot.The creamy peas offset the saltiness of the ham very well. Much food of this period is relatively simple to prepare but the unusual combination of linseeds and horse radish makes the peas quite delicious.

The Vikings kept and breed cattle, sheep, goasts, poulty and pigs. Pigs were one source of meat that could be kept slaughtered all year round.

It is thought that crops such as peas and beans were cultivated (although some researchers believe peas were not introduced until Norman times, others believe that the Normans only introduced new varieties). 

Horseradish has been cultivated since ancient times and was known to the Greeks and Romans. As traders, the Vikings and Saxons may have been aware of it and used it in their meals. Both root and leaves were used as a medicine during the Middle Ages and the root was used as a condiment with meats in Germany, Scandinavia, and Britain.


Making and cooking it
  1. Put a large pan of water on the hob to boil. It needs to be big enough to fit the peas and ham in together
  2. Shell the peas if they are in pods
  3. Put the peas in a dish and add the butter, linseeds and horse radish
  4. Tip the pea mixture into a clean cloth. Gather the cloth up around the peas and tie with string. Make sure there are no gaps so the peas can't fall out
  5. Put the ham in the centre of the second cloth and tie this into a bag too
  6. Put both bags into the boiling water and cook for about 1 1/2 hours
  7. Remove the cloth parcels from the boiling water, use tongs to do this. Put the parcels into dishes to drain and then unwrap them
  8. Lift the ham out with 2 forks onto a chopping board. Slice the ham
  9. Arrange the ham onto either individual plate or into the centre of a serving plate
  10. Spoon the peas around the meat
  11. Serve hot