|Carlin Peas make a great substitute for puy lentils or chickpeas in salads, stews, curries and dips, but traditionally they're eaten 'parched' - particularly in the north of England and especially on Bonfire Night.|
Carlin Peas (or black badgers, brown badgers, grey peas, maple peas, black peas...) make a great substitute for Puy or other whole lentils or chickpeas in salads, stews, curries and dips, but traditionally they're eaten 'parched' - particularly in the north of England and especially on Bonfire Night.
Served at festivals and fairs and sold in paper cones in pubs across the northern counties, parched peas were a very common street food for at least a couple of hundred years. These days they're much harder to find, indeed Slow Food UK has designated the peas they're made with a forgotten food; to be cherished, celebrated and hopefully introduced to a wider audience.
I ate my first parched peas over 20 years ago on Preston's Flag Market. Back then I never imagined that I'd end up selling carlin peas, but when we set up Hodmedod in 2012 I was delighted that we were able to include them in our initial range (and later add what I think are the only British-grown organic black peas).
If you've never tried parched peas why not make them this November? They're a delicious - and nutritious - snack on a cold night. And if you remember parched peas from your childhood but haven't been able to find the ingredients I hope we can help!
Inevitably with a very traditional food there are lots of fiercely defended recipe variations for parched peas; on their own or with bacon? Butter or no butter? Rum and sugar, salt and pepper or just vinegar? In the end there seem to be two basic approaches to preparing them and then a range of flavourings depending on region or family tradition. The recipe below outlines the basic recipe then suggests a few variations.
When the peas have cooked through you can drain them and pop them in a hot oven for 5 or 10 minutes to dry out a bit - then add the salt, pepper, vinegar.
Once cooked the peas can be transferred to a large frying pan and the sauce further thickened (then add the flavourings).
Instead of salt, pepper and vinegar why not try brown sugar, butter and rum? Herby parched peas are also very good - thyme, rosemary and sage; perhaps even a bit of garlic. Parched peas are delicious with other spices - chilli, ginger and cumin all work very well.
If you have a favourite way of preparing parched peas or a fond memory of eating them please do use the comment section to tell us all about it.
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