For 8 Person(s)
This traditional French recipe for cooking fresh garden peas makes a wonderful accompaniment for meats.
Soak the pearl onions into warm water before peeling. Shell the peas. Peel the onions and wash the lettuce and slice the leaves at about 1-inch intervals.
Gently sweat the onions for a few minutes in the butter with the bouquet garni but do not golden or brown. Sprinkle with the sugar then add the peas and lettuce leaves in alternate layers seasoning the peas with pepper and salt each time. Pour in sufficient water or stock for the simmering liquid to cook the top layer of peas and cook gently for about 20 minutes or until tender. If using frozen peas, follow the same procedures as above.
Presentation: To serve, remove the bouquet garni and present in a serving dish, but do not drain. The sweet cooking juices will blend very well with the gravies from the meat.
About peas (Petit Pois): The small round green seed of the plant Pissium Sativum, up to eight of which are enclosed in a long green pod. Peas have cultivated as a vegetable since ancient times, but they did not become widely appreciated in France until the 17th century, when Audiger introduced a new Italian variety to the French court. However Taillevent had already made known his recipe for "cretonne de pois". A type of spiced puré of peas and milk, mixed with chicken breast, and bound with eggs.
Madame de Maintenon, in a letter of the Cardinal of Noailles in 1696, wrote: "The question of peas continues. The anticipation of eating them, the pleasures of having eaten them, and the joy of eating them again are three subjects that our princes have been discussing for four days. It has become a fashion indeed, a passion and a life style issue"
Nowadays, 95% of French peas come from northern and western France and the Parisian basin, where those of Saint Germain and Clamart were once so famous that some recipes based on peas have been named after them.