Sunday, 20 April 2014

Peas Pudding, a Newfoundland Favorite

Many in Newfoundland call their Sunday Dinner "Jiggs Dinner". I've never found out if I spell it right, but no one has corrected me :)

I get a surprising number of readers that are looking for a traditional Newfoundland dressing recipe so I thought that those searching for a recipe from "back home" might be making a full jiggs. There are probably many variations out there, but I follow what the mother-in-law does and get no complaints around here ;)

A Newfoundland Sunday Dinner is usually comprised of salt meat, boiled with split yellow peas in a bag, turnip, cabbage, carrot and potato. We always have ours with either a roast turkey stuffed with dressing, or a roast chicken with the dressing baked separately. A turkey is really too much if it is just us, so I do a chicken to avoid wasting (or eating leftovers for a week!)

The first thing I do is soak the salt meat (I do this the morning of the big meal). This is a matter of preference (and NOTE: this meal is definitely not part of a low-sodium diet!) Those that prefer the salt might not rinse (too salty for me) and those wishing to reduce salt content would change the water completely as many times as they like. Personally, I do one rinse. It is a salty meal but one that we don't have often.

This picture is from last year in my old house.
I intended to do this post back then
 and am only finally writing it now!

While the meat soaks I prepare the yellow split peas by sorting them and looking for any stones or lentils that don't belong.

I have a peas pudding bag that I purchased at Sobey's last year. I have also made my own bags from a clean pillow case. If you make your own bag you must be sure that tiny threads do not make their way into your peas, or into the boiling pot of meat. I did several passes with my sewing machine on a straight stitch and also a zig zag stitch and clipped the material very close to avoid bits of material coming off.

I put about 1 cup of yellow split peas into the bag and tie the bag shut with kitchen string, leaving 1 or 2 inches room for the peas to expand/fill with water. If they are packed in too tight they take longer to cook and may not get enough water circulating to soften entirely (a mistake that I have made). As well, you must tie the bag to the handle of your stock pot so that it does not scorch (also a mistake that I have made). Make sure that the bag is off the bottom of the pan (see below) but is low enough in the pot to be submerged in the boiling water.

I put the salt meat in the pot with fresh water and set it to boiling with the peas. I try to have it boil 4 hours but have gotten away with less. You must continually top-up the water level so that the peas are submerged, and I give it a little stir initially to check that the meat didn't stick down (you guessed it, I've done that too!).

The meat and peas will boil approximately 3 hours before adding vegetables to the stock pot. I add turnip first (cut into chunks about 2" x 3"). I then let the water return to a boil for 15-20 minutes before adding the cabbage (cut into quarters, core intact to hold it together). I add carrots, cut in half, after the water has returned to a boil for 15 minutes. If I am boiling the potatoes in the same pot I add them at the same time, but quite often I boil them separately and just turn that pot on at the same time. Generally, I begin adding vegetables about an hour and a half before I plan to eat.

Once the boiling is complete, remove vegetables into a serving bowl. To prepare the peas pudding for the table, I cut the string tying the bag to the pot and carefully snip the string that has kept the bag shut. I later rinse the bag for reuse, so I'm careful not to put a hole in the bag when I snip the string. Dump the bag into a dish and mash any peas that aren't already mushy. I whip them up with a fork, adding approximately one tablespoon of butter per cup of peas pudding.

This picture taken with my phone does not do peas pudding any justice. It is a thick, creamy pudding (think split pea soup) seasoned with the salt and flavor of the beef over several hours of boiling. We love it and I hope you give it a try!


  1. I like split peas too, they're very underused I think, great in soups. Your way of doing them sounds delicious, almost like creamy mashed potato.

  2. Yes, they are very creamy like mashed potatoes. I try to use split peas in soups, along with pot barley. Thanks for stopping by, CJ, I hope you had a great Easter!