How to Make Mushy Peas
In the South of England and the Midlands, mushy peas traditionally go with fish and chips, while in Ireland they are more likely to make an appearance alongside a roast leg of lamb. In Northern England you can order ‘pie and peas’ which is a meat pie served with a portion of mushy peas on the side. They are jokingly termed ‘Yorkshire caviar’ in the North. Some people even like to serve them cold as a dip for bread or crackers. There is a vinegary version served in Scotland, and some English recipes feature sugar as well as fresh mint. Blue and yellow food colourings are sometimes used in the recipe.
Mushy peas are usually made with dried marrowfat peas, although split peas or fresh peas can be used at a pinch. Dried marrowfat peas can be hard to find outside the UK so we suggest using fresh peas instead, adding butter and cream to get a perfectly authentic texture. Choose large peas to make this recipe; the smaller ones will have too many skins when mashed to get the texture just right.
You can get mushy peas from any fish and chip shop in the UK and you can also get the tinned (canned) version which is not bad. However, once you leave British shores, you will find mushy peas more difficult (or impossible) to find, and even the tinned kind can cost more than anticipated. The easy workaround is of course to prepare your own mushy peas recipe from scratch, so you can enjoy the fresh flavour it offers.
- 340g (12 oz) shelled fresh large peas
- 60g (2 oz) salted butter
- 2 tablespoons double cream (heavy whipping cream)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon white sugar (optional)
- Put the peas in a sieve or colander and rinse them well.
- Now transfer them into a pan with a steaming tray.
- Add 1¼ cm (½ inch) of water to the bottom and turn up the heat.
- When the water reaches a boil, turn the heat down and steam the peas for 10 minutes.
- Drain the peas.
- Melt the butter in a pan, then add the peas.
- Turn the heat off.
- Mash the peas with a potato masher until they are textured but not totally pureed.
- Stir in some cream and mix well.
- Grind in some salt and pepper (and, optionally, add a pinch of sugar) then stir and serve.
Known, recognised and loved all over Great Britain, but largely unknown in many other places, mushy peas are a popular accompaniment to fish and chips, meat pies or roast leg of lamb. We are using fresh peas to make this side dish, along with butter and cream to get the texture just right. The mixture is lightly mashed but left textured rather than ending up as a puree. Try this dish hot with your favourite meal, or enjoy it cold as a dip for bread or crackers to add a touch of Britain to your mixed appetiser platter.
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