Traditional British Mushy Peas

Traditional British Mushy Peas

by Jenny Chandler November 10, 2017 7 Comments

Best known as an accompaniment to fish and chips, mushy peas have much more to offer. Here's Jenny Chandler's recipe for simple but sublime classic mushy marrowfat peas, with a solution to achieving a rich green colour without food colouring, and suggestions for mouth-watering ways to serve them.

There’s just no better accompaniment to classic fish and chips but my passion for mushy peas doesn’t end there. Cooked marrowfat peas can be used as a base for hummus-like purées, to thicken soups and stews or as pie fillings once combined with tasty veg or meat. It's easy to add some extra pizzazz by adding different seasonings, like these Moorish Mushy Peas with Harissa.

To my mind it’s never worth cooking up less than 500g of peas. You can always freeze any leftovers in smaller portions for a quick fix at a later date.

A teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda can be added to the peas whilst soaking or cooking (to speed up the softening process), but you can still achieve that perfect creamy texture with nothing but water - unless your water is especially hard. Bicarbonate of soda can give a slightly soapy flavour (some cooks counterbalance this with sugar) and it’s also said to reduce the nutritional value of the peas, so I’d rather leave it out.

We’ve come to expect the lurid green of most ready-cooked mushy peas, often achieved with artificial food colourings. As some may turn their noses up at the less glamorous beige of the natural pea, I've also provided an optional variation on the recipe for Green Mushy Peas.

No, I’m not going suggest that you use fresh peas as so many recipes do, the whole point of mushy peas is the fabulous texture, flavour and nutritional value of the dried pea. A little veg goes a very long way when it comes to greening up your peas, so, if you’re not a spinach lover please do still give this a chance. My daughter loathes spinach and yet she lapped up the peas without an inkling that they contained her least favourite vegetable.

Makes 10 generous portions

Ingredients

  • 500g Dried Marrowfat Peas - Hodmedod's Kabuki variety works especially well
  • 1-2 tsp Salt
  • 3-4 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or 50g Butter)
For Green Mushy Peas (optional)
  • 250g Fresh Spinach

Method

  1. Soak the peas in plenty of water overnight (or for 12 hours), remembering to use a large pan/bowl as the peas will double in size at least.
  2. Drain off the soaking water and then place in a large plan with enough fresh water to cover by about 5cm. You may need to top up the pea water during cooking but you certainly don’t want to have to drain any of this nutrient-rich juice away later.
  3. Bring the pan up to a boil, cover and then simmer for anything between 40 minutes and an hour (if you have hard water, filtering can help reduce the cooking time). Check the peas from time to time, they may require a splash more water and once they begin to burst and collapse its a good idea to stir the pan every few minutes to prevent any sticking.
  4. The final texture of your peas is up to you: I like quite a thick mush and so I bubble off any extra moisture but you may finish up by adding more water to reach your perfect consistency.
  5. Now’s the time to season with salt and, for an especially luscious creamy taste, some fat: either butter or extra virgin oil.
  6. If you’re eating your peas later you will find that they thicken up and you may need to add a little more liquid as you reheat them.
Optional steps for Green Mushy Peas
  1. Wash the spinach thoroughly and remove any tough or particularly stringy stalks.
  2. Squash the leaves into a saucepan with a well fitting lid, there will be no need for any extra water if your leaves are still damp from washing (if using ready-washed spinach just add 2 tablespoons of water to the pan). Place the pan over a medium heat and cook for about 5 minutes, until the spinach has collapsed and turned a fabulously deep green.
  3. Blitz the spinach to a purée using a hand-held or jug blender - you want it to be really smooth otherwise your peas will be flecked with spots rather than beautifully green.
  4. Stir the spinach purée into your cooked mushy peas just before serving to keep the really vibrant green.



Jenny Chandler
Jenny Chandler

Author



7 Responses

Chris Clowea
Chris Clowea

June 09, 2020

This recipe looks lovely. I am buying some of your marrowfat peas , could I grow a few of them would they germinate? Thanks
Chris

geoff Theakstone
geoff Theakstone

June 09, 2020

I soaked the peas with the bicarb for 24h cleaned them and i have had the on the stove for a good 2 hours and cannot get the peas to soften, what am i going wrong.

LizB
LizB

June 09, 2020

I haven’t cooked dried beans since I was a kid. This was the first recipe I tried with my new beans, peas and pulses. The amount of water suggested is way too much. “…to cover by about 5 cm” – well I did that and after 40 minutes the peas were done but totally swimming in water, like mega drowning. Such a shame as I agree that means you’re pouring off good nutrients. I re-did this recipe, and it worked by just covering instead, and then removing the lid after 10 minutes. Maybe because I soaked for 12 hours they don’t absorb so much in the pan?? Having realised the author is into over-stating amounts I was much more cautious with the spinach – you only need about 1 to 2 teaspoons of the blended spinach to change the colour, again the amount in the recipe is too much and if I’d used it all it would have changed the flavour of the peas. I’ve actually found reading most of the recipes on this site that the instructions for cooking the pulses/peas/beans are not that helpful to a total beginner, they need to be more specific and detailed (in my opinion) ie volume of water in ml to go with a specific volume of pulse.

Moyra Simpson
Moyra Simpson

June 09, 2018

or do it the traditional Scottish way, and serve with salt and vinegar. Delish.

Gordon
Gordon

June 09, 2020

You don’t need bicarbonate of soda. It can impart a funny taste to the peas, as well as making you fart like a dray horse (the peas will be sufficiently fartiferous without bicarb). Just soak the peas overnight in plenty of water. Rinse and (for by far the best results) place in a pressure cooker with enough fresh water to go about an inch over the top and a little salt (½tsp or so). Bring up to pressure then cook for anything upto 25 minutes, so as they are properly mushy (or rather ‘squashy’ in my family). I don’t bother with anything to make them a brighter green, they don’t need it. take off heat and let pressure cooker release pressure naturally, of mixture looks too wet, drain a little cooking water off, then add mint sauce, white pepper and a little malt vinegar to taste, mash a little more with a spud masher if necessary. Tuck in. Delicious, and you’ll be farting your socks off in a few hours.

DaveWolfy
DaveWolfy

December 17, 2017

Lard – not butter or olive oil.
Now you know.

Ann Snell
Ann Snell

December 14, 2017

Just soaked all 500g of mine for 24 hours, then 10 minutes in the pressure cooker. Added salt and pepper then very large knob of butter……OMG! cant stop eating them! I’ve only ever had tinned ones, and these beat them hands down! No i didnt add spinach (i love spinach) but i like the natural grey green colour!

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