I love doing these weekly posts with the Food Network. I’m forced to go beyond just making what strikes me at the moment and instead come up with something according to the theme they represent. Sometimes easy and sometimes not. Kale would be one of the ‘not’ but peas? Peas are easy. They are the one vegetable that I always have on hand; most often as the quickest accompaniment possible to a dinner that I’ve prepared for myself. And most often in the environment of quick they are simply put into a bowl and microwaved. Fancy huh?
Still, maybe unfair to categorize them only because of their convenience. I have loved them since forever…or at least since I discovered the wonder of frozen peas and could forever put behind me the awfulness of canned ones. WHY??? A vegetable yes but with a hint of sweetness and just perfect with a dab of butter. And don’t get me started on the color; really what else can brighten a plate so easily and take a mundane piece of chicken and turn it into a meal?
For this exercise today though for the last of Food Network’s Spring #SensationalSides, I had to do better than just peas with butter. And as much as I love that simple side dish, I can not deny; these peas with bacon and leeks in a creamy sauce with more crispy leeks is swoonworthy. The photo with tomatoes? That really was dinner; I had no need for anything ‘main,’ a big spoonful of this side was delicious and so satisfactory. Maybe two spoonfuls worth even. I only wish I could take credit for these; I’m old fashioned enough that I’ve got still got some splattered and time worn recipe cards that I’m slowly but surely transitioning to the web; many are just quick notes without any attribution but this one credits Grace Parisi from an article in Food and Wine magazine from 2004. I have been making these awhile and still love them…thanks Grace!
Yes, there is a bit more work but the results are SO worth it. The perfect accompaniment to a nice grilled steak or some pan fried chicken; they would elevate any meal from quick to quintessential! This is one of those recipes that I should probably have halved for myself but I’m so glad I did not. I’m OK with the same side dish on my plate a couple of nights in a row; in this house Leftovers R Us and these peas for leftovers? I have just LOVED them!
I hope you try them but if you need more inspiration, be sure to check out the list of recipes from my friends for your perusal that are featured after the recipe. All with the pretty pea. I tend to favor frozen for their ease, but what a perfect time to find some fresh peas and make a special meal with my favorite pea dish ever.
Peas with Bacon and Crispy Leeks
- 3 large leeks, white and tender green parts only, sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick and separated into rings
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 6 slices thick-cut bacon
- 4 thyme sprigs
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- Three 10-ounce boxes frozen baby peas, thawed
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water
- Wash the leeks well and pat dry. In a large saucepan, heat 1/2 inch of oil until shimmering. Add all but 1/2 cup of the leeks and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer the leeks to a paper towel–lined plate. Discard the oil. Season with salt and pepper.
- In a large, deep skillet, cook the bacon over moderately high heat, turning once, until golden, about 5 minutes. Drain the bacon on paper towels and crumble.
- Add the remaining 1/2 cup of leeks and the thyme to the fat in the skillet and cook over moderately low heat until the leeks are softened, about 8 minutes.
- Add 1/2 cup of the chicken stock and cook over moderate heat until it is reduced by half, about 7 minutes.
- Add the heavy cream and cook over moderately high heat until it is reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the peas, crumbled bacon and the remaining 1/2 cup of stock and bring to a boil. Discard the thyme sprigs. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cornstarch mixture and cook until the sauce is slightly thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the peas to a bowl and top with the crispy leeks just before serving.
The crispy leeks can be made ahead and stored overnight in an airtight container. Recrisp in a 350° oven if necessary.
Pea, peas and more peas. Enjoy this absolutely perfect spring pearl in a variety of ways. The last week of our spring offerings; hope to see you next week when we jump into summer. Here that Denver? Summer. Enough of the snow, OK?
Creative Culinary: Peas with Bacon and Crispy Leeks
Daisy at Home: No-Cook Spring Succotash
Weelicious: Summer Pea Salad
Virtually Homemade: Green Pea Hummus
Homemade Delish: Peas That Please
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Marinated Peas & Peppers Salad
Red or Green: English Pea Mash on Garlic Rubbed Bruschetta
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Cauliflower and Peas Stir-Fry
Taste with the Eyes: Pasta with Peas, Bacon, Mint, and Ricotta
The Mom 100: Spring Ramp and Pea Risotto
Dishin & Dishes: Sesame Sugar Snap Peas
FN Dish: The Freshest Ways to Pass the Peas, Please