Friday, April 22, 2011

Recipe Week: Creamed Peas and New Potatoes

In looking across the week it appears I really like soup and dessert (true!)  I wanted to share one of our family's favorite spring dishes as well.  We made this growing up with fresh peas and potatoes from the garden.  Now, we make it mostly with frozen peas and red potatoes from the store unless we're really lucky and my mom shares her bounty with us.  This year we are growing potatoes, mostly so B can learn about them so perhaps we'll have our own new potatoes to enjoy.

Our Creamed Peas and New Potatoes
Attempted from the rough guidelines my family has for making this dish-- we don't write down recipes much, until now!


  • New potatoes --- really small potatoes of any kind "could" work. I would avoid russet and look for things more like red potatoes, yukon gold or even fingerling potatoes, if available.  Quantity varies by how many people you are cooking for, but for recipe purposes lets say a pound (or maybe 5-6 small/medium potatoes).
  • Peas - preferably those you just shelled after picking them in mornings early light--- wait, you didn't pick peas and don't even have any peas in your suburban garden? Ok, how about a cup of frozen peas.
  • Chicken broth or water
  • 1 cup Milk - preferably whole, but anything will work-- some portion being cream would be even better. 
  • 3 T Flour 
  • 3 T Butter 
  • salt & pepper to taste - a fairy sizable amount of both in my pot
  • Optional - additional herbs or garlic/onion to bump up the depth of flavor, but we rarely use them as fresh vegetables sing on their own.

1.  Cut the potatoes up so each is about an 1-2 inches in size.  If they are already that small let them be (but you'll probably need closer to 8-10 of that size).  Peel them if you prefer, some, like yukon golds have such tender skin that you are probably fine to leave them.

2.  Add the potatoes to a large pot and fill with stock or water just to cover them.  (Alternatively, put water in and add some cut of onions, garlic, salt, pepper and maybe an herb or two if you have some around).  Boil until tender and strain out the water -- reserve it for later!

3.  Melt the butter in the same, now empty, pot.  Add the flour and cook for a minute or two, stirring constantly.  (For the savvy among you-- yes, you are making a roux and feel free to follow your own typical method for this).

4.  Meanwhile, warm the milk and 1/2 cup of the reserved water in the microwave -- we are looking for just warm, not boiling so maybe 2 minutes at most. (This is optional, but will make things go more quickly).

5.  Gradually, add a bit of the warmed liquid at a time, stirring constantly with a whisk.  Continue adding until it is all in the pot.  Continue to whisk for several more minutes until the mixture thickens. We want it just a bit thick not all the way to cream gravy thick. If it progresses too quickly and is thicker than you like add some more of the reserved water from cooking the potatoes to thin it out again.

6.  Add back in the cooked potatoes and the cup (or more as you like) of peas.  Cook for 5 minutes or so to allow everything to warm and flavors to meld.  Taste to see if it needs salt or pepper.  If you still think it is a bit bland consider some onion powder, but I'm usually happy at this point, particularly if I have fresh ingredients.

This is technically a side dish, but the first time of the season it is almost always an entire meal for us and a true taste of spring.  Also, you could make it into a main dish by adding some chicken or other meat and possibly another veggie or two.  Enjoy!

NOTE: No one really ever taught me to make this so I do it mostly by feel/observations.  I loved learning to cook by observing my Mom, Grandma Blakley, and Grandpa Dotter and so hope my kids learn that way too.  Meanwhile, I'd recommend checking the comments to see if my mom has caveats or additional instructions as she is much more the pro than I, which is why she is the recipe presenter on Sunday's blog!

 - Tomorrow begins a series of guest recipe posts beginning with my Lil' bro (Able) who is making his second guest posting foray and is, thus far, the only two-time contributor!

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