France—Petite Peas with Onions

 

French Side

petite green peas

Petite Peas with Onions
Petit Pois
(Serves 8)

Petite Pois: tiny, green peas braised with onions and lettuce: a time-honored classic of French cooking.


2 small heads bibb lettuce (quartered)
2 lb. fresh or frozen petite peas
24 shallots or small onions (peeled)
2 sprigs fresh mint
6 T water (or more)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 C butter

Cut off stems of bibb lettuce, quarter each head, and loosely tie 4 quarters back together (you will have 2 bundles). In a large pot, first add the lettuce quarters, then peas, shallots (if using onions, cut in half), and mint sprigs on top. Add water, salt and sugar, and dot with butter.

Cover and simmer over low heat 30 minutes, shaking pot to make sure the lettuce doesn’t burn. Add a little more water if needed. Remove mint, cut string from lettuce, and arrange all (including lettuce and liquid) in a serving dish. Serve immediately with and meat dishes, especially Boeuf Bourguignon.

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Tips & Glossary

Bouquet Garni: (boo-kay gar-nee) bundle of herbs tied together with string or wrapped in cheese cloth square; usually parsley, thyme, bay leaf, and peppercorns. Flavor is released during long cooking.Remove before serving.

Chervil: (sher-vil) related to parsley but has a delicate anise flavor. Long cooking kills flavor, so add at the last minute.

Cornichon (kor-nee-shon) teeny-tiny pickle, served with pates & smoked meats; found in specialty food stores.

Fines Herbes: (feen-airb) mix of finely chopped herbs: parsley, chives, tarragon, & chervil. Not as strong as a bouqet garni. Buy it at most grocery stores.

Fromage: (fra-mahj) Cheese! The French eat more than any nationality, 45 pounds per capita per year; and the country makes more cheeses than any other country, about 400.

The three great pedigreed French cheeses are:
• Brie (East of Paris)
• Camembert (Normandy)
• Roquefort (Southwest France, from sheep’s milk)

There are also wonderful lesser-known cheeses:
• Beaufort (Rhone Alps, hard, yellow Gruyere-type)
• Chevre (Loire Valley, soft, goat’s milk)
• Comte (Alps region, hard, yellow Gruyere-type)
• Emmental (Alps region, “Swiss” cheese with holes)
• Gruyere (hard, yellow cheese—originally French, now most is Swiss)
• Tomme (means “cheese”; soft, many varieties, all from skim milk)

Herbes de Provence (airb-duh-pro-vonce): mix of dried herbs, usually thyme, rosemary, marjoram, basil, & bay leaf Can be found at most grocery stores.

Mutarde: (moo-tard), mustard. Most famous:
• Dijon ( from the town in Burgundy)
• Meaux (from Meaux, east of Paris; whole-grained; made by Pommery).

Nicoise Olive: (nee-swaz- oh-leev) small, purplish-black olive with a mellow, nutty flavor; used primarily in Salade Nicoise. The Picholine variety is a green, medium-sized olive with a light, nutty flavor.

Roux: (roo) paste-like mix of melted butter and flour, into which liquid is gradually added. The basis of every classic French sauce.
Basic Roux: 1 part butter to 1 part flour. Melt butter and add flour, stirring vigorously, till it becomes a paste-like consistency. At this point, add slowly whatever liquid your recipe calls for

 

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