Medieval Pease Pie laced with Bacon
“We must take you out of that vile dungeon, then. Scrub you pink again, get you some clean clothes, some food to eat. Some nice soft porridge, would you like that? Perhaps a pease pie laced with bacon. I have a little task for you, and you’ll need your strength back if you are to serve me.” -A Dance with Dragons
Modern Pease Pie
If you love peas, then this is the dish for you. But I mean really, really love them, because that is a lot of peas… The bacon helps to alleviate the near overdose of peas, but still.
The medieval pease pie was a delight to discover in our cookbooks. Sadly, the reality didn’t quite live up to our hopes. The flavor of the juices was overwhelmed by the sheer number of peas. Additional bacon might have helped this, as well as the occasional pearl onion. The pie also had some serious structural issues, as the crust got soggy, and the peas rolled everywhere when a slice was dished out.
The modern pease pie solved all of these problems. Because the peas are mashed, they hold their shape when the pie is cut. We used a little extra to make the tart in the photo above, but a closed top pie will ensure the peas don’t burn. The flavors are much better rounded and full, the shallots and mustard coming to prominence. We also used purple pearl onions for a splash of color.
Conclusion? The modern pie is definitely the winner in this mash up.
Medieval Pease Pie Recipe
To make a close Tart of greene Pease. Take halfe a peck of greene Pease, sheale them and seeth them, and cast them into a cullender, and let the water go from them then put them into the Tart whole, & season them with Pepper, saffron and salte, and a dishe of sweet butter, close and bake him almost one houre, then drawe him, and put to him a little Vergice, and shake them and set them into the Ouen againe, and so serue it. -The Good Housewife’s Jewell, 1596
Our changes: to better match the description in the novel, we added bits of crunchy bacon to the pie. We also substituted the verjus for more readily available grape juice. We also downsized from half a peck (~5 lbs!) to an amount of peas that would actually fit into a modern pie pan.
- 6 cups shelled fresh green peas, or most of one 32 oz. bag frozen, thawed
- pastry crust, top and bottom (get a recipe)
- 3 Tbs. butter
- pinch saffron
- pinch each salt and pepper
- 4 strips bacon, cooked crispy and crumbled
- 1 Tbs. grape juice
- 1 Tbs. lemon juice
- 1 Tbs. cider vinegar
- 1 egg for glaze
Preheat oven to 425.
Divide your pastry dough in half. Roll out one half and lay in a pie pan. Set the other half aside.
Put your peas into a saucepan with water, and bring to a boil for about 5 minutes. Drain in a collander, then pour into your prepared pie crust. Using the palm of your hand, press firmly down on the peas to pack them down.
Melt 3 Tbs. butter, and add the saffron to it. Allow to cool slightly, then pour over the peas. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and spread the crumbled bacon on top of everything.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Fill the prepared shells with the cooled peas and top with some small pieces of butter. Lay remaining dough circles over tops of tarts. Pinch crusts together, using a little brushed-on water as glue. Trim off any excess dough, and crimp. Make a few slits in the top crusts with a sharp knife so that steam can escape. Brush top crusts with beaten egg.
Bake until brown, about 30 minutes. Let settle on a wire rack for about 5 minutes before slicing and serving. Be careful as the peas will roll and spill from the sliced pie.
Modern Pease Porridge Recipe
- Pastry dough for a large 9″ pie dish, or similarly sized springform pan
- 2 lb. peas
- 2 Tbs. butter, divided
- 1 cup rough cut bacon
- 3-5 shallots, sliced thin
- 1 tsp. mustard
- 2 Tbs. Parmesan cheese, shredded
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 egg, beaten
Boil the peas until they are soft enough to be thoroughly mashed, about 15 minutes. Drain and mash them with 1 Tbs. butter.
In a separate pan, fry up the bacon until just shy of crispy, then scoop it out with a slotted spoon and add it to the mashed peas. In the remaining bacon grease, cook the shallots until they are soft. Add them to the peas and bacon, followed by the mustard, cheese, and salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly.
Roll out your pastry dough and line the pan with it. Spread the remaining butter over the bottom of the pastry, then dump the filling in. Smooth it out, and cover with remaining pastry. Brush with beaten egg and bake at 350 F for 20 minutes.